Israeli nabbed for sex trafficking in UK

Police arrest suspect at Ben Gurion, say they will ask UK authorities to help apprehend second suspect.

Prostitute 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Prostitute 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
A 58-year-old Israeli man living in Manchester, England, was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday on suspicion of attempting to lure young Israeli women into prostitution abroad. Meir Mizrahi, who frequently visits Israel, placed an ad in a Hebrew-language newspaper about a year ago that read: "Young and beautiful women wanted for well-paid work," according to detectives from the National Unit for International Crimes and Investigations. Mizrahi allegedly interviewed a number of women who responded to the ad - most of whom walked away from the 'offer' after realizing the nature of the work. One woman did travel to the UK to work as a prostitute, but returned home after two months. Police said Mizrahi, who has lived in Manchester for 30 years, was one of the owners of a house in the city that was used as the brothel. Mizrahi allegedly operated a sex trafficking network and worked with a second suspect living in Manchester who has been on the run from Israeli police since 2003 after being charged with sex trafficking. "The Israel Police intends to contact UK police and notify them that a suspect is residing in Britain without a visa, and to ask for assistance in locating him," police said. A third suspect - a cab driver from Lod - was also arrested by Israeli police after allegedly driving Mizrahi around the country free of charge during his visit last year, helping him to place the ad in the newspaper, and buying him a number of mobile phone cards in an effort to disguise the number's account information. A central witness in the investigation is a woman illegally brought from Moldova to Manchester, where she met with Mizrahi and his partner, and received an in-depth explanation on work at the brothel before working there for a year. Mizrahi's custody has been extended by four days by the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court. Much of the sex trade in Israel involves smuggling foreign women into the country, and there are fewer instances of Israeli women traveling abroad for prostitution, according to Yael Edelist, a spokeswoman for the Israel Women's Network. In 2001, the US State Department began ranking states in accordance with their response to illegal human trafficking, and placed Israel in the third and worst category, reserved for states that do not meet basic counter-trafficking standards and make no effort to do so, the Israel Women's Network said. The report prompted Israel to take a number of steps to combat human trafficking, and it has since moved up into the group of countries that take active steps to combat the phenomenon. The Israel Women's Network has called on authorities to provide alternative homes for all women who fall victim to the sex trade in Israel [rather than only to those prepared to testify against their pimps] and to expand preventative and educational programs.