The Tel Aviv District Court convicted Rami Saban and four others Thursday of trafficking hundreds of women into Israel for prostitution, three years after the original indictment.

The panel of justices, headed by Justice Khaled Kaboub, wrote in the indictment that this was one of the largest human trafficking operations in Israel’s history, charging the defendants with smuggling women into Israel through the border with Egypt.

After their transfer to Israel, the women were sold to an escort service where they worked as prostitutes from cars and local brothels.

The operation’s reach went as far as Northern Cyprus, where the trafficking ring ran a brothel.

The court also found the four guilty of falsifying documents, including passports.

Eight men were indicted in March 2009 for the human trafficking ring; two of them became state witnesses as part of a plea bargain.

The chief suspect in the case, Saban, 35, from Megadim, was charged with 23 felony offenses, including conspiracy to commit a crime, operating a brothel, managing a brothel, solicitation, forcing a person to leave their country of residence to work as a prostitute, assault, forgery, money laundering and harassing witnesses.

The three key suspects are alleged to have pocketed between NIS 1m. and NIS 3m. each.

The women were kept – and often imprisoned – in Tel Aviv apartments that were rented for them by the suspects, the charge sheet relates.

Saban, seen as the leader of the pack, was convicted back in 2001 of human trafficking and sentenced to 31 months in jail, and was found guilty of operating a brothel a year later.

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