Five arrested in forced prostitution ring
The police arrested five suspects in a human trafficking investigation in Assen on Tuesday morning. Accusations against them include forcing women into prostitution, drug dealing, rape, and aggravated assault. Two victims came forward to report the suspects, but the police believe that more women fell victim to them.
"Victims of exploitation often live in a world of fear. Exploitation is almost always accompanied by physical and emotional violence. It is difficult to come forward in such a situation. We hope that other victims feel safe to report now that these suspects are in custody," said Hendrik van der Veen, Human Trafficking Team Chief of the Noord Nederland police.
Victims can go to the police or any care provider. "The safety of the victims is our number one priority," Van der Veen said.
The police launched this investigation after receiving many reports against the suspects. Locals reported suspicious circumstances, filed noise complaints, and reported drug use. All five suspects are from Assen. The main suspect, a 45-year-old man, is suspected of human trafficking in the form of sexual and criminal exploitation, aggravated assault, rape, and violating the Opium Act. Another two men, 44 and 41, are suspected of human trafficking and violating the Opium Act. A 25-year-old woman is accused of rape. And a 27-year-old woman is suspected of human trafficking. The police expect to make more arrests.
The police searched seven homes in Assen and seized data carriers and other items for further investigation. The suspects are in restricted custody, which means they are only allowed contact with their lawyers.
"These five suspects have now been arrested, but the investigation does not end there. We hope to receive additional information from victims, witnesses, and other persons involved. That can also be done anonymously," said Assen police chief Sebastiaan ten Heuvel.