Wednesday, June 07, 2006

International Trafficking Ring Busted Between Israel and Canada

Will Any US Jewish newspapers write about this?

Israeli-Canadian women trafficking ring busted
According to suspicions, ring members placed ads in Russian newspapers in Israel offering escort services in Canada
Avi Cohen
Ynetnews, Israel
June 6, 2006

The police have busted an international women trafficking ring between Israel and Canada. Details of the ring were released by police Tuesday morning, with the arrest of three suspects in the case. The suspects are a couple from Ariel, aged 40 and 26, and a 40-year-old Lod resident.

A few months ago, Tel Aviv police detectives noticed ads in Russian newspapers in Israel offering work for women.

Newspaper ad (Courtesy of Israel Police)

The ads said that the work was in escort services in Canada, and offered USD 10,000 a month. Police began investigating the individuals behind the ads, and found that women from the former Soviet Union arrived at the offices, often with an Israeli passport.

When they arrived, they were met by "initiators," who carried out humiliating tests on them, photographed them naked from every angle, and then sent the pictures to Canada.

After a period of time, the Canada-based members of the ring sent answers to the Israeli branch of the network. When a positive answer was received, ring members organized documents, and if needed, passports, and sent the woman to Canada.

'International slave trade'

Police Supervisor Stoklov told Ynet Tuesday morning that "this is an international network for selling women. The network was active in Russia, Israel, Canada, and the United States. This is a slave trade. They take the women and check them, their bodies, like they check slaves."

"We have made arrests in the early morning and are holding three suspects, one of whom is known to us from the women trafficking field, while the other two are not known to us."

The investigation was coordinated with law enforcement agencies in Canada and the US, where arrests are expected shortly.

Israel carped for human trafficking
US State Department report on human trafficking lists Israel among nations not doing enough to fight form of "modern slavery"
Yitzhak Benhorin
Ynetnews, Israel
June 6, 2006

Israel remains on the list of countries Washington accuses of being lax on human trafficking, a State Department report showed Sunday.

Head of the State Department Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons John Miller said trafficking in human beings and forced labor are a form of "modern slavery," admitting the United States witnesses many of these crimes on its own soil each year.

Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Laos and North Korea were singled out as countries with horrendous records of human trafficking.

Israel appears on a list of countries being monitored for improving signs in fighting human trafficking and forced labor.

The report said Israel is a destination for workers from Romania, Jordan, Turkey, Thailand, the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka and India, who provide the workforce for the construction and agricultural sectors.

Many of these workers pay human traffickers USD 1,000-10,000 before reaching Israel, which makes them vulnerable to employers as they are eager to earn the money back.

The report also said Israel is a destination for sex workers from former Soviet Union countries.

Between 1,000 and 3,000 foreign women work as prostitutes and as many as 20,000 foreigners are subjected to forced labor in Israel, the report said, citing independent groups.

The State Department praised the government for making a "considerable effort" to fight human trafficking, but said is not obeying international standards.

The report specifically criticized Israeli labor laws under which foreign workers can only seek employment with an employer whose name appears on their work permit. Under the current law, should an employer fire foreign employees they are automatically rendered illegal aliens and subject to deportation.

The government was praised however for a campaign against women traffickers. Some 31 traffickers were convicted and sentenced last year.

3 arrested in int'l prostitution ring
Jerusalem Post
June 6, 2006

On a day when Israel faced stiff criticism by the United States for not taking a tough enough stance against the trafficking of women, Tel Aviv District Police revealed Tuesday that three suspects had been arrested earlier in the morning after allegedly helping to operate a prostitution ring in which Israeli women were send to work as prostitutes in Canada.

Over the course of two months of investigation, police gathered evidence against three residents of Ariel; 40-year-olds Arkady Kazner and Igor Vieman and 29-year-old Anna Kortayev.

The investigation began after police noticed an advertisement in Russian-language newspapers published in Israel that solicited young women to work as escorts in Canada. The advertisement promised would-be employees a monthly salary of $10,000, as well as subsidized plane tickets and even passports to young women who didn't have one.

Curious to see what was behind the enticing offer, police enlisted the use of a female undercover officer who contacted the number listed on the advertisement and posed as a prospective call girl.

The officer met with the suspects a number of times in anticipation of the trip to Canada, and the suspects provided her, as promised, with both a passport and a plane ticket.

The investigation indicated that the suspects sent dozens of young women overseas who worked as call girls in brothels and clubs in Canada. Police suspect that many young women were asked to pose naked for photographs, which were then allegedly sent to sources in Canada, who would review the pictures and select young women for the job. Police sources said that some of the women may not have been aware that they were being sent to work in prostitution.

After a large amount of evidence was gathered against the three, police decided to begin the overt stage of investigation. In a morning raid on suspects' houses in Ariel, the three were arrested and materials that police said implicated the suspects in the charges against them was found in their possession. On Tuesday afternoon, the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended the remands of Kazner and Vieman by five days. Kortayev's remand was extended by two days.

Police said that more arrests were likely to follow - and emphasized that the investigation was not restricted to Israel. Throughout the investigation, Israeli detectives worked together with authorities in both the United States and in Canada. Arrests overseas were also likely to occur as the investigation progresses.

Headline News
Police arrest 3 in Israeli-Canadian human trafficking ring
by Staff Writer
Israel Today, Israel
June 6, 2006

Police arrested three suspects on Tuesday in an international female trafficking ring operating between Israel and Canada. Tel Aviv detectives busted the ring after investigating ads in Russian-Israeli newspapers offering escort services in Canada for $10,000 a month. Investigators found that the women involved were from the former Soviet Union. The ring organizers are accused of screening the women by photographing them naked and sending the pictures to Canada. Once the women were approved, arrangements were made for them to go to Canada. Police said that this trafficking ring for selling women was an international network active in Russia, Israel, Canada and the United States. “We have made arrests in the early morning and are holding three suspects, one of whom is known to us from the women trafficking field, while the other two are not known to us,” said a police supervisor.

3 charged with human trafficking in Israel
Women brought to GTA to work as prostitutes
Toronto `investors' not arrested based on legal loophole
Jun. 7, 2006. 01:00 AM
Toronto Star, Canada

JERUSALEM—The reward: a life of riches beyond their wildest dreams in lovely Toronto.

The requirements: youth, beauty and a willingness to sleep around for the first month in Canada and not a single day more.

Once the ladies of Israel paid back the cost of the journey by working as prostitutes in Toronto nightclubs, they would be free to do as they pleased. Free to proceed to a life of riches and happiness in Canada. Because everyone in Canada is rich and happy, after all.

Such was the modus operandi described yesterday by police in Tel Aviv, as they revealed details of the first human trafficking ring charged with the selling of Israeli women abroad.

"We've uncovered many sex-slave operations in the past five years, but this is the first one that preyed on naïve young ladies with the promise they would be exported from Israel," said Gadi Eshed, deputy chief of the Tel Aviv Police, Central Unit.

"For every one of these women, the destination was Toronto, where there appears to be a very large market, from what we have learned."

Tel Aviv police yesterday charged three suspects following early morning raids in Israel, laying single counts of human trafficking relating to the export of at least 10 young Israeli women aged 18 to 27 to Toronto during the past six months.

The Israeli suspects, who are alleged to have "international criminal ties" extending to Canada, the U.S. and Russia, face maximum sentences of 16 years each under the Israeli criminal code.

The ring's Toronto "investors," according to Israeli police, may not face any sanction whatsoever due to a loophole in Canadian law that stipulates human trafficking is a crime only if the victim is lured under false pretenses or coercion.

RCMP Inspector Glenn Hanna acknowledged the loophole, saying Canadian law "follows along with the United Nations definition of human trafficking."

According to Canadian law, "if someone comes to Canada, knowing full well what is expected of them, and there is no force, no coercion, it is not human trafficking," said Hanna, citing Section 279.01 of the Criminal Code.

Hanna, an officer in charge of the Greater Toronto Area immigration and passport section, said the RCMP first knew of the Israeli case in April.

"Our information that we had from Israel was very clear to us that these women all knew that the job (on arrival in Canada) was prostitution," said Hanna. "As a result of that, our determination was this is not a trafficking case but a morality case or prostitution-related case. And that was passed to Toronto police service for their information."

In Tel Aviv, Eshed said they "were disappointed and embarrassed to learn that what is a crime in Israel may not actually be a crime in Canada."

"The fact is, these women knew what they were getting into. They knew they were going to work as prostitutes. But they were also very naïve. They really wanted to believe that, after a few weeks, they would be able to break away and start a new life, instead of being trapped in a meat market," he said.

"In Israel, the law is strict on these matters. Human trafficking is a crime, period.

"But if we want to develop a case against the traffickers in Toronto we have a problem because the Canadian law is more liberal. If the girls know, it appears not to be an issue."

Eshed said Toronto police were working to track down the Israeli women. "They will check on their well-being to find out if they are still enjoying their VIP status in Toronto."

All of the women in question, and the alleged ringleaders charged yesterday, are Israelis of Russian descent. Although the Tel Aviv police unit credited with the bust is the Russian Organized Crime Squad, Eshed stopped short of labelling the ring as a component of a larger Russian mafia.

"It is premature to declare this a specific organized crime group. But we know for a fact this is a very well-developed organization with strong connections between Canada, Russia and Israel," he said.

Eshed said the investigation began several months ago when police became aware of Russian-language newspapers in Israel running ads offering work in Canada for "young, beautiful girls." The ads touted salaries of up to $10,000 (U.S.) per month.

Several Israeli policewomen subsequently launched a "honey trap," working undercover in the guise of job applicants, Eshed said.

Applicants were met by "initiators" at an Israeli office, Eshed said, where they underwent humiliating scrutiny, including being photographed nude from various angles. The photographs were sent to Canadian counterparts, who would then send messages indicating which women warranted further interest. The Israeli ring finished the process for each woman, arranging travel documents and air tickets to Toronto.

"This is an international network for selling women," said Tel Aviv Police Supervisor Zvika Stoklov. "This is a slave trade. They take the women and check them, their bodies, as if they were checking slaves."

Hanna said that if the Israeli women were found working as prostitutes they could face charges under soliciting for the purpose of prostitution, living off the avails of prostitution, or running a bawdy house.

"These things are all against the law," said Hanna.

Yesterday's arrests came just one day after a U.S. State Department report gave Israel mixed grades on its approach to human trafficking.

While crediting Israel for making headway in a campaign against the trafficking of women, the annual report downgraded Israel's overall status, saying it was failing to ensure the welfare of as many as 20,000 foreign workers subjected to forced labour in Israel.

With files from Dale Ann Freed

Sex slaves sold to Canada?
Israeli cops bust ring that allegedly shipped unwilling prostitutes here
Toronto Sun, Canada
June 7, 2006

JERUSALEM -- Israeli police have uncovered an Israeli-Canadian prostitution ring that may have included trafficking Israeli women to Canada, police said yesterday.

Three Israelis were arrested this week in connection with the case, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. The ring worked over the past few months to recruit dozens of young Israeli women who were sent to Canada, where they were promised large salaries, Rosenfeld said.

The women answered ads for "escort services" and were subjected to degrading interviews that involved photographing them nude before they were sent to Canada, he said. Although some knew they were going to work in prostitution, others may have been sent against their will, he said.

Canadian authorities have not yet made any arrests in the case, Rosenfeld said.

The discovery of the ring on Monday came the same day a U.S. state department report on human trafficking blamed Israel for not doing enough to stop it. The report placed Israel in the same category as Cambodia, China and Kuwait.

Although Israel is making serious efforts to stop the crime, "the government of Israel does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking," the state department website said. "Israel ... has failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking."

Israeli prosecution efforts against those who deal in trafficking "were uneven and inadequate over the last year," the report said.

Rosenfeld said Israel has stepped up efforts in the past two years to stop the movement of people across borders against their will.

"There is a decline (in Israel) in the numbers of those who are involved and dealing today with the buying and selling of women," he said.


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June 14, 2006 3:42 AM  
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April 04, 2009 12:51 AM  

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