4 traffickers and at least 20 victims have been identified by the Hungarian and Swiss authorities in the framework of a joint investigation team set up in June 2022.

The members of a criminal organization suspected of forcing vulnerable Hungarian women into prostitution in Zurich since 2016 were apprehended during a joint action day on 22 November. Two men based in the North-Eastern town of Mezőkövesd approached heads of families living in extreme poverty, who then persuaded their spouses or partners to take up prostitution work in Switzerland in the hope of a better living. They had to offer their sexual services on the street in front of a bar and hostel, while the clients were already received in their flat, constantly monitored by the female members of the OCG. The victims were told how much money they had to earn in a day (about 1,500–2,000 CHF), and they were not allowed to go up to their rooms until they had collected it. So sometimes they had to spend no less than 14-18 hours a day on the streets. Three or four victims were taken to Switzerland at a time for periods of two to three weeks. According to the data of the investigation, the perpetrators made a net profit of between 10 and 20 million forints (equal to 24,000–48,000 EUR) from each of these tours, and as a result led a luxurious lifestyle.

At the capture, the authorities seized large sums of cash, electronic equipment, mobile phones and a luxury car. 7 properties in Mezőkövesd were also sequestered, which the suspects had registered under the names of their minor children, but none of them had a verifiable income at the time of acquisition.

The perpetrators, who have been staying in Hungary, were arrested until 24 December. The Regional Court of Miskolc justified this order in particular with the risk of absconding abroad as well as the possibility of exercising unlawful influence on the witnesses.

Related press release of EUROJUST: