Undercover police on Monday launched a sting operation against six Israelis suspected of forcing hearing- and speech-impaired people from Eastern Europe to beg for money on their behalf.
The victims apparently solicited money by presenting notes about their predicament and giving out toys.
The Israelis — among them three residents of Rishon Lezion, one from Ashkelon and another from Netanya — were taken in for questioning and 10 people were rescued from an apartment in the coastal town of Netanya and transferred to a safe house for victims of human trafficking.
In addition to trafficking, the six were suspected of false imprisonment, forced labor, assault, rape, withholding passports and conspiracy to commit a crime.
The police believe the 10 people rescued came from Eastern Europe on tourist visas that subsequently expired.
They suspect the operators of the ring of housing the victims in apartments while illegally holding their passports, perpetrating violent crimes against them and taking a significant part of their money.
One of the suspects was accused of sexually assaulting one of the victims