The brothers and two Romanian companions were arrested last month. In addition to human trafficking, the suspects were accused of forming an organized criminal group. One was also charged with rape, although authorities declined to identify the person, citing local laws.
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The Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Directorate, or DIICOT, said in a statement Dec. 29 that it identified six people who were recruited and then sexually abused in Ilfov County, which includes the capital, Bucharest.
Authorities said the victims were coerced into participating in pornography intended for distribution on social media and that one of the suspects raped a victim twice in March. The statement, which does not name the suspects, said the victims faced “acts of physical abuse and mental coercion”.
The Tates were in the country legally, DIICOT spokeswoman Ramona Bolla said in a Dec. 30 interview, noting that the investigation began in April after the U.S. Embassy called Romanian authorities. with information that a US citizen was being held against his will in a house in Ilfov.
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Police said the four suspects organized a group in early 2021, plotting to commit human trafficking, not only in Romania but also in the United States and Britain. A conviction in Romania for human trafficking can carry sentences ranging from three to ten years. In case of rape, the sentences can range from 5 to 10 years.
Police earlier reported a search of two properties in April in Ilfov County, in which they said they seized assets related to the case. The Tates’ detention came after police executed five home search warrants, police said. The alleged American victim is no longer in the country, Bolla said. The other five alleged victims were Romanian and Moldovan.
Sorcher reported from London, Morris from Erkelenz, Germany. Timothy Bella and Kelsey Ables contributed to this report.