Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Operation Milano

Tuesday 9:00am, Bergen, Norway
Police storms two buildings. Eight were arrested, several others brought in for questioning. Several are women originally from Asia, working in Norway as prostitutes on the indoor market. Those arrested are charged with human trafficking.

Tuesday 9:00am, Oslo, Norway
Police hit eleven addresses and brought in several persons, two of them charged for human trafficking in Bergen. Oslo's prostitution market is currently dominated by women from Nigeria.

Tuesday 9:00am, Gothenburg, Sweden
Police arrests two women. These have connections to the prostitution network in Bergen.

Police have for a long time had these locations under observation.

One of the buildings was one block away from the cinema, above the restaurant Thai Away.

The other location was Wat Po, a therapy centre. The owner, a 53 year old woman, has been charged with human trafficking but has not been arrested. Police suspects she might be abroad.

Another woman from Thailand charged with human trafficking is suspected of having found women in Thailand, promised them a better life and a good job in Scandinavia. They were brought from Thailand, via Sweden to Norway and Bergen, where they were forced to work as prostitutes.

She was arrested in the appartment above the restaurant she runs. Her Norwegian partner says there must be a mistake, he cannot believe she is involved in any such business. The partner himself owns one of the buildings the police stormed.

Police says this kind of activity can be classified as organized criminal activity, something which can add 5 years to a prison sentence.

No one yet knows how many victims are involved but police says it reaches far and involves many.

In a strange way this makes me feel... happy inside. They've taken it seriously after the former police chief claimed only two years ago "There are no foreign prostitutes in Bergen!".

A reorganization of Norwegian police and renewed focus lead to these arrests which will hopefully only be the beginning of the joined Scandinavian focus on human trafficking. It also makes me realize we can't criticize the police too much - they have strict rules to follow and can't defend themselves - they simply can't say they're investigating certain individuals - if they do, they will risk ruining the whole investigation.

However... it is kinda scary. I've walked past the restaurant Thai Away three or four times just the past week. The first time I noticed it was when walking there with The Guy, he commented on the name (Thai Away - Take Away). I noticed two 50-60 year old rather creepy men standing in the door, leering at a young guy when he approached, saying "it's closed".

There were also

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