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Police sting nabs two suspected traffickers in women
By Roni Singer
Ha'Aretz - January 13, 2004
Two men who were arrested last Thursday on suspicion of importing women from Eastern Europe to work as prostitutes in Israel will appear in the Tel Aviv District Court for a remand hearing today.
Stanislav Kuperman and Boris Shimshishvilli were arrested as part of an operation launched by Tel Aviv detectives, in which an officer was sent undercover to purchase women over the telephone.
Several weeks ago, police arrested a man known by the nickname Bijou, who had been a police informer for several years, and more recently had started trading in women.
Under questioning, Bijou gave police the telephone number of an Egyptian Bedouin from whom he had purchased women to work at the several brothels he operated in Tel Aviv.
"When we called the number, a man calling himself Ahmed answered and said that he had seven women waiting to be sold for work in Israel," said the head of the police's Russian crime division, Superintendent Pini Aviram. In fact, it later turned out that the women were "surplus," after the person who had placed the original order failed to contact the Bedouin dealer.
"One of our detectives, who passed himself off as a potential buyer, entered into telephone negotiations with Ahmed over the price of the women," said Aviram. The dealer wanted between $5,500 and $6,000 for each girl, depending on how attractive she was, and said that he would determine how much each one was worth. "It is common for Russian women to fetch the highest price, while Uzbeki women fetch the lowest," Aviram added.
The undercover officer asked Ahmed to let him talk to one of the girls and hear from them what condition they were in. "One of the women started begging us over the phone, without knowing that we were police, to buy them. She said they had been kept for 40 days in the same place, that they were freezing cold and hungry," said Aviram.
Hotel meeting arranged
Within three hours of agreeing to purchase three of the women, police were informed that they were already in Israel. The women were to be brought from Be'er Sheva to Tel Aviv, and a meeting was arranged at a Tel Aviv hotel. It was later decided to move the meeting to a gas station on the highway between Tel Aviv and Ashdod.
Sitting in the back seat of the taxi that showed up for the meeting was an 18-year-old girl.
In the front seat sat the taxi driver and a man suspected of trading in women smuggled over the border from Egypt. After the undercover officer paid the suspect for the money, all three of the occupants of the taxi were arrested.
Police sources sya ther have still not been able to track down the other two women that the undercover officer was supposed to purchase, but believe that they are still in the Be'er Sheva region.
The woman was questioned, and will testify at the trial of the two suspects. Police believe that the taxi driver has participated in such deals in the past.
Lawyers representing the two suspects, Kuperman and taxi driver Shimshishvilli, say they deny all involvement in the crime.
"My client has no criminal record," said Kuperman's lawyer in court on Friday. "He was a passenger in the other suspect's taxi, and all three decided to stop at the gas station for refreshments."
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