Spanish Police investigating a prostitution ring in Madrid have freed a woman who had been beaten, tied, and had a bar code tattooed on her wrist.
The 19-year-old Spanish woman had been held against her will and had a tattoo on her wrist as a sign of ownership, as well as a money figure showing how much she owed her ‘pimp’ bosses.
The woman had also been whipped, chained to a radiator and had her hair and eyebrows shaved off by the ‘bar code pimps’ as part of the ring in central Madrid, officials said.
Spanish police have since arrested 22 suspected pimps who allegedly used violence to force women into prostitution and tattooed them with barcodes. All those arrested were of Romanian nationality and had forced the women to hand over part of their earnings, the statement said.
The women were tattooed on their wrists if they tried to escape, the statement said. Police also seized guns and ammunition. It was not immediately clear when the raids took place.
Police seized 140,000 euros in cash, which had been hidden in a false ceiling, a large amount of gold jewelry and five vehicles, three of which were described as luxury cars. The gang was made up of two separate groups, referred to as ‘clans’ in the statement, each dedicated to controlling prostitution along fixed stretches of a street in downtown Madrid.
Prostitutes in the ring were referred to as ‘packages’, ‘suitcases’, or ‘bicycles’, police said.
One of the alleged ringleaders who was identified only by the initials ‘I.T.’ is wanted by authorities in Romania for crimes linked to prostitution, the statement said.
The women were controlled at all times to ensure ‘money was taken off them immediately,’ the statement said.
Sex is a multibillion-dollar industry in Spain, with colorfully lit brothels staffed mainly by poor immigrant women from Latin America, Africa and eastern Europe lining highways throughout the country.
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