Prostitution, women harassed and called “garbage”: recruited in Bulgaria and forced to sell themselves, they fed them with water and potatoes. 9 arrests in the Catania area
Nine arrests in the Catania area for trafficking in persons, enslavement, and criminal association aimed at exploiting prostitution, crimes aggravated by transnationality. The state police operation was baptized ‘Bokluk’ – garbage in Bulgarian – because the suspects turned to women who subjected them to indescribable harassment to force them into prostitution.
The investigations of the Foreign Crime and Prostitution Section of the Catania Mobile Squad, coordinated by the DDA magistrates pool, had begun in June 2020 after the complaint filed by two Bulgarian girls against another foreign citizen for questions concerning the payment of a ‘rent’ to occupy the roadside posts near a railway station bar, where the two women prostituted themselves.
According to what emerged from the investigation, the victims of trafficking, some of whom recruited at home at a price of about 12,000 levs (Bulgarian currency corresponding to about 6,129 euros), once in Italy, were housed in dilapidated houses in Catania (in the San Cocimo), in poor hygienic conditions, deprived of all freedom (and identity documents) and fed with the bare necessities to make them survive. The girls received scarce food, mostly potatoes, and inexpensive too. The criminal group, headed by a couple and in which Bulgarians and Italians collaborated, earned about 1,400 euros a week from them. Their torturers, who called them “garbage” (bokluk in Bulgarian), forced them into prostitution for several hours every day (from 7pm to 4.30am), even during the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, in all weather conditions. The young women were beaten and subjected to abuses of all kinds, as well as the constant control of compatriots and / or people hired on the spot by their exploiters.
A severely handicapped girl was constantly harassed, whom the police found in the group leader’s home and taken to a sheltered facility for victims of trafficking. According to the victim, her tormentors forced her to sell out and even do housework, even during the night. Investigators seized cell phones and cash. A Bulgarian who is the recipient of the precautionary measure in prison is currently untraceable and is wanted.