An organized criminal group specialized in human trafficking has been arrested in the city of Taganrog, Southern Russia, by a regional directorate for combating organized crime. The group comprised 2 men and a woman. Alexander Sviridov, 30, was the group’s leader. The man previously served a prison term for larceny. Svetlana Prokhorova, the 42-year-old mother of four, was Svidorov’s right hand and sidekick. Not unlike her boss, woman is no stranger to breaking the law either. She was convicted of bribery in the past. Prokhorova used to have a business of her own. However, she went broke a few years ago. She spent several years eking out an income with odd jobs. Then Prokhorova met Svirodov who suggested she join him in human trafficking or modern-day slave trade. Ivan Zarubin, the third member of the group, worked as a driver and guard.
The dealers in slaves operated in Taganrog and its neighboring areas. Most victims were found among the local unemployed and tipplers who were fit for hard labor. The people were defrauded into taking profitable job offers which would require seasonal work in the country, with “guaranteed” pay, board and lodging. In actuality, selected candidates would be sold off as cheap labor to work under slave-like conditions. Prior to being shipped to their new owners, all the victims would be gathered in Svirodov’s dacha, doing housework or working on his garden plot for free. During their stay in the dacha, they had to sleep out in the open.
“We took action once we became aware of the criminal activity of that group. Our operatives approached the traffickers by introducing themselves as buyers of labor,” said Andrei Tarasov, head of department of the directorate for combating organized crime for Rostov region. “The operatives told Svirodov that they were interested in buying 5 workers to be used on a construction site in some distant village of the Rostov region. The crook said that he had four good candidates waiting at his dacha. He also promised to find a fifth worker, a female cook, in the near future. Then the two parties had a meeting to cut the deal. Svirodov brought along one of the men allotted for sale – he apparently wanted to display the ‘commodity’ before selling it,” added Tarasov.
“Check this guy out! He’s really built, he doesn’t eat much and he’s a hard worker,” Sviridov told the plainclothes policemen. “You don’t have to pay them, just feed them scraps and give them some cigarettes. They’re used to hard labor. And they won’t ask much in return. We can always catch them should they try to run away, you can be certain of that,” added the trafficker.
Sviridov asked 50,000 rubles for each worker who had a passport. “The price is always higher for those bearing IDs. You gotta be on the safe side in case the police make an inquiry. One of my workers has no documents whatsoever. He’s available for 25,000 rubles. If you buy another ten from us, you’ll get two for free,” promised Svirodov. The parties agreed on the terms of a bargain. The seller was supposed to consign the “goods” to the buyer in a forest near the highway in the vicinity of the village of Yantrany.
All three members of the gang were arrested soon after the deal was completed. Svirodov was counting the money; Prokhorova and Zarubin were standing nearby. The police handcuffed the suspects as the “slaves” were putting their belongings into the trunk of the vehicle of their new “owners.” The victims were in shock when the police told them that they had been sold off.
“They told us we’d be working on a construction site somewhere in the region. We had no idea they were selling us as slaves,” the victims told the police. One of the “construction workers” was particularly upset when he learnt of the price he had been sold at: “Fifty thousand rubles a pop? Is it a fair price for a human being?”
“We instituted an action against the suspects. They’re likely to be charged with committing a crime that falls under Article 127 of the Criminal Code – the article stands for illegal deprivation of freedom. Besides, we have evidence that the suspects have also committed other crimes, such as applying for consumer loans using passports which belonged to other people,” said Oleg Yasnov, a senior investigator of the chief investigative directorate for Rostov region.
If the poor are forced, defrauded or coerced into slavery for labor or sexual exploitation, the rich often dream of being enslaved when it comes to sadomasochistic practices. The cost of services rendered by prostitutes playing the role of a dominatrix has been steady rising. A weird case was reported recently in Moscow. A wealthy businessman arrived in a BDSM parlor located in Shevchenko embankment. The customer requested that his scrotum be incised. When the manager showed him the door, the customer slapped $2,000 dollars on the table. The personnel reluctantly attended the pervert, using a sterile surgical scalpel for performing the procedure. Soon he was rushed to a hospital.
Slave market at a global scale
Annually, about 900 thousand people are trafficked across national borders of different countries. According to a report published by the World Labor Organization, 12.3 million people are involved in forced labor across the globe.
According to UN statistics for 2006, people in 127 countries are abducted or defrauded for the purpose of slavery; trafficking victims (foreign nationals) are exploited in 137 countries. The rate of human trafficking was ranked as “very high” in 11 countries including Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Lithuania. The human trafficking rate was ranked as “high” in such countries as Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
A considerable number of Ukrainians, Belorussians, Moldavians and Romanians are trafficked to EU countries for working in the farms. The victims are also forced to work as street beggars and prostitutes.
Modern-day slaves are most frequently trafficked to 10 countries including the United States, Israel, Turkey, Japan, Germany, and Greece. At a global scale, 77% of trafficking victims are women; children account for 33% of all trafficking victims. The above are forced into sexual exploitation in 87% of trafficking cases.
Translated by Guerman Grachev