Police in Brazil have dismantled a human trafficking ring that targeted transgender women, offering to cover the cost of surgery then forcing them into prostitution to pay for it, authorities said on Wednesday.
At least 38 transgender women were found in brothels in Ribeirao Preto, a city in Sao Paulo state where the traffickers had lured them with the promise of paying for their transition.
Police are also investigating the deaths of two transgender women. One is thought to have been murdered for not paying her debts and the other died after botched cosmetic surgery in which industrial rather than medical grade silicone was used.
"We face here a classic case of modern slavery, in which the chains are not physical, but invisible," said federal prosecutor Andre Menezes. "We are facing here a case of someone exploiting another person's dreams."
Officers in charge of the operation, which was dubbed "Cinderella", said the victims had been forced into selling sex to pay for the illegal surgery and for the cost of their journey. They were also made to take drugs. Read more via Reuters