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Spain breaks up male-prostitute trafficking gang

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[August 31, 2010]  MADRID (AP) -- Spanish police say that for the first time they have broken up a human-trafficking gang that brought men to the country to work as prostitutes, providing them with Viagra, cocaine and other stimulant drugs to be available for sex 24 hours a day.

HardwareAuthorities arrested 14 people, mainly Brazilians, on suspicion of running the organization and another 17 alleged prostitutes for being in Spain illegally, the National Police said in a statement Tuesday. A police official said he did not know if the male prostitutes serviced men or women.

Sex is a multibillion-dollar industry in Spain, with brothels staffed mainly by immigrant women from Latin America, Africa and eastern Europe lining highways just about everywhere and respectable daily newspapers brimming with ads from people selling their bodies. Prostitution falls in legal limbo: it is not regulated, although pimping is a crime.

Police said the case involving the Brazilians is the first in which they have broken up a ring in which traffickers brought in men, rather than women, to toil as sex workers.

The victims were recruited in Brazil and saddled with debts of up to euro4,000 ($5,000) as the cost of bringing them to Spain. Some were duped into thinking legitimate jobs awaited them; others knew they would be working in the sex industry, but not that they had to be available for sex around the clock and would be moved from one province to another, the police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department rules.

The men had to give half their earnings to the gang.

"If the men complained or caused any kind of problem, the gang leaders would threaten them, even with death," the statement said.

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The arrests were made in recent weeks and the alleged ringleader is a Brazilian based in Palma on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca.

Besides Viagra and cocaine, the men were given marijuana and the club scene drug known as 'poppers', the police statement said.

[Associated Press; By DANIEL WOOLLS]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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