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Transatlantic pimping gang smashed: French police source

A transatlantic network of sex service procurers in France, Spain and Colombia has been dismantled with a dozen people arrested, French police sources said on Friday.

The network, headed by a couple, ran at least 50 sex workers in France, generating annual profits of up to 30 million euros ($32 million), said a police source, asking not to be named.

The couple were arrested in Colombia during Tuesday’s police operation.

Four men and two women were detained in Spain, and were to be handed over to the French authorities shortly, the sources added.

Two other men and two women were caught in France and were to appear before a judge Friday.

Pimping is illegal in France, as is the purchase of sexual services.

The arrests followed a more than year-long investigation by the national anti-gang unit into the group for suspected pimping, people-trafficking and banditry, the sources said.

Most of the sex workers are Colombian and Venezuelan, with some from Peru and Paraguay, Elvire Arrighi, head of France’s national office for the fight against human trafficking, told AFP.

The women, aged 20 to 40, “were exploited in a completely industrial manner in France”, she said, each forced to serve up to 10 clients a day.

The Venezuelan woman and Colombian man running the network recruited women by promising a better life in Europe.

Two call centres in the Spanish cities of Madrid and Malaga, as well as one in France, served as a client contact platform while the women had “no control over their agenda, and had to report back by message after each client”, Arrighi said.

The network had employees to look after food, transport and security so the women “could focus entirely on the clients”, she said.

Investigators put annual profits at at least five million euros per year, but said they could reach 20 or 30 million.

Arrighi praised what she said had been “unprecedented cooperation” between France, Colombia and Spain.

“Faced with organised crime without borders, police forces must work together, including across oceans,” she said.