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Police bust human-trafficking ring in Spain, Bulgaria

POLICE BUST HUMAN-TRAFFICKING RING IN SPAIN, BULGARIA

A three-year investigation by Spanish and Bulgarian police has broken an international crime ring involved in trafficking young women, Europol said on Tuesday.

The EU law enforcement body said 34 suspects were arrested -- 26 in Spain and eight in Bulgaria -- and 13 victims rescued.

Vulnerable women in Bulgaria were lured to Spain "with the promise of a better life" investigators said.

Forced into crime and sexual exploitation, they were pressured into stealing clients' cash, credit cards and other valuables.

Violence and threats were then used against the trafficked women and their families, Europol added.

Around €50,000 in cash ($57,000), luxury watches and "a significant amount of drugs" were seized in 36 properties in both countries by the security forces. Judges also ordered the freezing of numerous bank accounts.

The investigation began in September 2014 when a Bulgarian woman showed up at a local police station in Marbella, southern Spain claiming to have escaped from people who were forcing her into prostitution.

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