Police smash Chinese sex slave rings in Madrid

Spanish police said on Monday they had busted two rival Chinese criminal networks that lured women and girls from China to Spain with the promise of high-paying jobs and then forced them into prostitution.

Police smash Chinese sex slave rings in Madrid
The women employed by the gangs had to work as prostitutes for at least a year and turn over 40 percent of their income. File photo: seekay12/Flickr

The operation, carried out in cooperation with French police, led to the arrest of 26 suspects in Spain and 25 in France as well as "the liberation of 25 victims", a statement said.

"The victims, some of them minors, were recruited in their homeland with the promise of a job in Spain with a monthly salary of over €4,000 ($5,000)," it said.

The women were sent to Spain on fake visas and charged between €12,000 and €14,000 euros for the trip, part of which had to be paid before they left China.

Once in Spain, the rings seized the women's passports and kept them in tiny windowless rooms in Parla, a southern Madrid suburb.

The women were forced to work as prostitutes for at least a year and turn over 40 percent of their income, police said.

Police seized €3,500 euros and 15,000 Chinese yuan (€1,800) in cash as well as several weapons and four cars.

The two rings owned 11 properties with a combined value of around €2.75 million, the police statement added.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain’s top court reinstates first sex workers’ union

Spanish sex workers have the right to form their own union, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, overturning an earlier court decision ordering the dissolution of Spain's first such labour organisation.

Spain's top court reinstates first sex workers' union
Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP

Known as OTRAS (or “the Sex Workers’ Organisation”), the union was discretely set up in August 2018 but was closed three months later by order of the National Court following an appeal by the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

But following an appeal, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of OTRAS, saying that its statutes, which had triggered the initial legal challenge, were “in line with the law” and that sex workers “have the fundamental right to freedom of association and the right to form a union”.

In its November 2018 ruling, the National Court had argued that allowing the union to exist amounted to “recognising the act of procurement as lawful”.


Contacted by AFP, the union did not wish to comment.

When it was founded, OTRAS received the green light from the labour ministry and its statutes were publicly registered in the official gazette the day before the government went into a summer recess.

But three weeks later, the government — which portrays itself as “feminist and in favour of the abolition of prostitution” according to Sanchez’s Twitter feed at the time — started legal moves against it.

In Spain, prostitution is neither legal nor illegal but it is tolerated.

Although it is not recognised as employment, there is a large number of licensed brothels throughout the country.