Seven Israelis were arrested over the past week in a massive international police sting against a criminal network smuggling Belarussian women into Israel to work as prostitutes.
The arrests come at the conclusion of a months-long undercover operation that saw cooperation between Israeli and Belarussian police and Interpol.
Several victims of the network, detained by police in the arrest operation, have been taken to a shelter. They were cooperating with police and were providing testimony about the suspects, police said.
The suspects have not been named, but were identified by police as immigrants from former Soviet Union countries. They included a 31-year-old from Petah Tikva, a 35-year-old from Holon, a 30-year-old from Bat Yam, a 27-year-old from Beersheba and a 39-year-old from Tel Aviv.
A sixth member of the network was arrested Sunday. And a seventh, the alleged ringleader of the group, identified as a 57-year-old Israeli citizen living in Belarus, was arrested by local police in the East European nation.
The group was described by officials as organized and hierarchical, capable of identifying potential victims in Belarus, coaching them on how to enter Israel, receiving them in the country and accompanying them to Interior Ministry offices to help them obtain residency papers, then employing them as prostitutes.