25-year-old Elisa Zamlen and her partner, 30-year-old Alexander Radin, were charged with a slew of prostitution-related crimes on Sunday.
The indictment includes counts of human trafficking, pimping, emigration with the intention of prostitution, threats and large-scale money laundering.
According to the indictment, the two have been operating a network of prostitutes set up in apartments throughout Israel. While Zamlen took care of the cleaning, Radin handled security, and together they took half of the women’s earnings.
The couple published ads on Russian-speaking sites through which they recruited the women. While the position itself was billed as “A tour of Israel,” the description left no doubt regarding what it would entail.
The ad read: “The job is in Israel, with a tour of the country: Haifa, the center, Jerusalem, the south and Eilat.
A city is selected for a girl based on demand and availability. Work is conducted in apartments or hotel rooms. Living expenses are covered by the agency. Each girl receives $40 in all for a single-contact, 30 minute session.”
The job description goes on to say that “If a girl works for one hour straight, she receives $80 in all. After five weeks with the agency, her plane ticket is reimbursed.
Amateur or professional photos can be used. It is recommended to select a photo where the girl’s face is clearly visible. Sunday – Thursday are full work days, during which each girl receives 10 – 13 clients, earning $500 – 600. Friday is a half day, and Saturday is set aside as a personal day.” The ad also promotes Israel as a tourist destination, telling the women that they “may travel around on Saturday and explore Israel’s sea and holy sites.” It ends with a celebratory “Have a good tour.”
The prosecution has asked the Court to keep the two in custody until all legal proceedings are concluded. The massive amount of evidence against them includes cellular and online correspondences regarding wire transfers, as well as instructions on how to pass through Ben-Gurion Airport without suspicion and what to do if confronted by the police.
Chief Inspector Lior Harari, who lead the team assigned to the case, said that it was Zamlen who was the more dominant of the two when it came to managing the women, while they were both in charge of renting the apartments and managing the financial side of the operation.
“This is an unusual case, since it apparently doesn’t involve any coercion,” said Harari. “The women were not forced to come to Israel, but were contacted in their countries of origin, given a contract and were made to understand that they were coming to Israel to work in prostitution.
Their daily hours were protected, and yet the plaintiffs almost almost never met with the women in person, as they normally communicated with them over the phone or online. Each round of employment was several weeks long, with some of the women returning a number of times.”
Harari stressed that “The sophistication in the operation lay in transporting the women from apartment to apartment to avoid being detected,” adding that Zamlen “is a very strong and sophisticated girl, something that came across in the way she conducted herself. She basically oversaw an entire empire, employing dozens of girls, some born in Israel and a large number of them coming from former Soviet Bloc countries.”
The couple’s attorney, Zion Simon, claimed that his clients’ business merely aimed to provide massages, and that “Any other act performed in private beyond what is legally permitted was done so out of the women’s own free will and without my clients’ knowledge.”