[Stop-traffic] News/Yugoslavia: U.N. Swoop on Kosovo Prostitution Rings

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Yugoslavia: U.N. Swoop on Kosovo Prostitution Rings
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Sun Nov 26 2000 - 21:42:31 EST


                  NATO, U.N. Swoop on Kosovo Prostitution Rings

RTos 11/17/00 11:35 A Reuters Ltd.

     By Andrew Gray
      PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (Reuters) - Hundreds of NATO soldiers and U.N.
police raided brothels run by organized prostitution rings in Kosovo
overnight, officials said on Friday.
      Search teams carried out simultaneous swoops on 18 properties
controlled by both Serbs and ethnic Albanians in the town of Kosovo Polje,
just outside the provincial capital Pristina, Kosovo's United Nations
police force said.
      The joint team of 45 police officers backed by around 300 soldiers
from Britain and Norway used slegehammers to break into some properties,
police said. They detained five men, confiscated five weapons and seized a
small amount of drugs.
      Police said they had discovered around a dozen women in the target
locations. They said they had evidence that Serbs and Albanians, riven by
ethnic hatred in most of Kosovo, were working together to control
prostitution in the town.
      Investigators were working to establish whether the women had been
held against their will or were themselves guilty of crime.
      "We're not treating them as suspects until we have information that
would connect them with any criminal activity," police spokesman Charley
Johnson told Reuters.
      Organized crime has boomed in parts of postwar Kosovo due to a law
enforcement vacuum after the withdrawal of Serb security forces in June
last year.
      International officials say the trafficking of women and prostitution
greatly increased in Kosovo after the 1999 war, partly due to the influx of
foreign bureaucrats, project contractors and soldiers all helping to
rebuild the province.
      Kosovo Polje has become a major center for prostitution and
trafficking of women, the NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force said.
      "There has been a considerable amount of cooperation between Serb and
Albanian pimps, with women being exchanged between them," KFOR's
British-led central brigade said in a statement.
      Johnson said he did not believe police had detained any international
personnel. But they were alert to the possibility they might find
foreigners among brothel clients and would not cover up any international
involvement, he said.
      "Nobody's immune from this," he said. "We're thoroughly determined to
be prepared to handle that."
      International agencies have found that many of the prostitutes working
in Kosovo are from ex-Soviet republics such as Moldova, lured to the
province by false promises of legitimate jobs.
      U.N. police say they are able to crack down harder on organized crime
now they are more established in Kosovo.
      "We're getting better at it because people are becoming increasingly
confident that we will do something about these types of things," Johnson
said.

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