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On a day when Israel faced stiff criticism by the United States for not taking a tough enough stance against the trafficking of women, Tel Aviv District Police revealed Tuesday that three suspects had been arrested earlier in the morning after allegedly helping to operate a prostitution ring in which Israeli women were send to work as prostitutes in Canada.
Over the course of two months of investigation, police gathered evidence against three residents of Ariel; 40-year-olds Arkady Kazner and Igor Vieman and 29-year-old Anna Kortayev.
The investigation began after police noticed an advertisement in Russian-language newspapers published in Israel that solicited young women to work as escorts in Canada. The advertisement promised would-be employees a monthly salary of $10,000, as well as subsidized plane tickets and even passports to young women who didn't have one.
Curious to see what was behind the enticing offer, police enlisted the use of a female undercover officer who contacted the number listed on the advertisement and posed as a prospective call girl.
The officer met with the suspects a number of times in anticipation of the trip to Canada, and the suspects provided her, as promised, with both a passport and a plane ticket.
The investigation indicated that the suspects sent dozens of young women overseas who worked as call girls in brothels and clubs in Canada. Police suspect that many young women were asked to pose naked for photographs, which were then allegedly sent to sources in Canada, who would review the pictures and select young women for the job. Police sources said that some of the women may not have been aware that they were being sent to work in prostitution.
After a large amount of evidence was gathered against the three, police decided to begin the overt stage of investigation. In a morning raid on suspects' houses in Ariel, the three were arrested and materials that police said implicated the suspects in the charges against them was found in their possession. On Tuesday afternoon, the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court extended the remands of Kazner and Vieman by five days. Kortayev's remand was extended by two days.
Police said that more arrests were likely to follow - and emphasized that the investigation was not restricted to Israel. Throughout the investigation, Israeli detectives worked together with authorities in both the United States and in Canada. Arrests overseas were also likely to occur as the investigation progresses.