Two more women in Limassol have been arrested on prostitution-related charges, in connection with an undercover operation that led to an unprecedented police raid last week.
On Thursday night, cops arrested two females, described as foreign nationals aged 30 and 50, based on information they received in connection with a broader investigation into an illegal prostitution ring in Yermasoyia. The two women were not cooperating with police according to initial reports.
The case involves female sex workers from Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Moldova who were selling sex for €50 and €60 using personal hook up classifieds, under the supervision of suspected pimps from Greece.
Two males aged 52 and 60 are already in custody, along with a 36-year-old female from Moldova, known as “Nicole” and described as a sex worker and a lady friend of one of the male suspects. They were all set to appear before a judge on Friday for their second remand hearing.
According to documents during a hearing on Thursday at the Limassol District Court, Nicole was scouting for potential female sex workers and arranging for them to come to Cyprus.
One of the male suspects is also suspected of having ties in Salonika, Greece, where an employment agent would facilitate the operation.
Sex exploitation allegations
But the police prosecutor during the remand hearing said the women were being forced into having sex with customers for money, and they were further required to kick back about 30% of the profits to their pimps.
According to media outlets, police are dealing with a number of possible offences, ranging from running an illegal brothel to sex exploitation and human trafficking.
But later, the suspect started asking for 50% of the profits, forcing the woman to agree or find herself out on the streets
One of the newly-arrived women, according to what was heard in court, was given accommodation in one apartment where she was living with one of the male suspects, whose lady friend lived in an adjacent flat.
The man had told the new sex worker he would be finding male customers for her and she would need to kick back €15. But later, the suspect started asking for 50% of the profits, forcing the woman to agree or find herself out on the streets.
The male suspect even started walking in on the woman even during the times she was with clients and went on to stalk her several times, according to media reports, while there were also cameras installed outside the woman’s apartment door for additional monitoring.
The prostitution ring was busted last week following an undercover operation, when a law enforcement male associate dialed a number from the classified ads and asked to visit the apartments.
A man with a Greek accent on the other end of the line had told him that there was “new merchandise” as he was referring to two new ladies aged 20 and 32, whom he offered at the price of €50.
Prostitution not regulated in Cyprus
While prostitution is not illegal in the Republic of Cyprus, trafficking, pimping and public soliciting for sex are offences punishable by law.
But Cyprus is one of several countries where prostitution is unregulated, meaning that sex workers legally making a living by prostituting themselves could end up being victimized by pimps or in jail for violating laws that ban the organisation and running of a brothel.
Cops have also been criticised in the past for using undercover “male associates” to have sex with women before arrests are made, with officials saying strong evidence such as used condoms and marked bills are needed for evidence in a court of law.
Police have been mounting efforts to combat sex trafficking following a scandal in the summer when cops were arrested in a sex trafficking sting.