Hungarian gay sex traffickers arrested in Miami

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In 2010, an 18-year-old Hungarian whom police are identifying as I.N. logged onto Facebook to find an unexpected message. It was from Viktor Berki, a man he had never met. 

I.N. responded, inciting a chain of messages that culminated in I.N. traveling from Hungary to Vienna, Austria, where he met Berki and his boyfriend, Gabor Acs, for the day. 

After this physical meeting, the cyber exchanges dwindled. Nothing else of much note happened until almost two years later. In 2012, Acs contacted I.N. on GayRomeo.com. According to Special Agent Melissa Pavlikowski, at first I.N. did not recognize who had contacted him, but finally placed Acs as the boyfriend of a man he had met over a year before in Austria—a man who had reached out to him seemingly at random over Facebook.

Once I.N. recognized Acs, he accepted his Facebook invite. And again, an exchange of messages took place with an invitation to meet in person. However, this time Acs asked I.N. to work as an escort.

At first, I.N. declined, but Acs was persistent, promising that I.N. would make between $3,500 and $5,000 a month. When I.N. agreed, Berki paid for his plane ticket and Visa paperwork (to apply for waiver is free, but there is a $14 transaction fee). While he was filling out paperwork for I.N., Berki asked about him personal questions about his family.

A similar situation played out with five other young gay Hungarian men. Special Agent Pavlikowski reports that one of them, identified only as R.C., said that Acs told him “that ‘erotic’ work was legal in the United States and that R.C. would only have to give Acs half the money he earned and that would include food and rent.” All of the men had return flights within a couple of months; their plans were to come to the US, make quick, legal money, and return home with a few thousand dollars.

Upon arrival, however, they were informed that they were already in debt. Berki, Acs, and a third man, Andras Janos, formed a trafficking ring known via bank statements as Never Sleep Inc. And contrary to previous promises, the six newcomers were responsible for paying for rent, food, laundry, and plane tickets, as well as $1,500 for supposed Visa waiver fees.

They were told they could keep their half of the money they made after debts, and were set to work. Special Agent Pavlikowski states:

I.N. had up to three clients a day. In addition, I.N. was directed to perform sex acts in front of a webcam for LiveJasmin.com from midnight to 6pm, which only left I.N. able to sleep or eat between 6pm and midnight. The sex acts performed were done at the direction of online clients, one of whom directed I.N. and another escort to beat R.C with a belt for over an hour.

The others had similar schedules and worked up to 20 hours a day.

When R.C. told Berki he wanted to fly home, Berki told R.C. he had rescheduled the return flight for a date that had already passed. Berki and Acs had all of the victims’ documentation and also threatened the victims’ families, whose information they had obtained for the visas. More disturbingly, Acs had a samurai sword with which he allegedly threatened to kill a victim if he lost a client, and he often bragged of being “connected” in Hungary and able to make victims “disappear, like they never even existed.” Berki implied that he could do the same for their families, claiming he had been a police officer in Hungary.

Eventually, three of the victims were able to leave the operation under what a police report calls “different circumstances.” Never Sleep Inc. began to fear that police may have been tipped off and relocated to Miami.

The block in Miami where the trafficking ring was housed.

The three men remaining—including I.N. and R.C.—were told that things would be better; that the move was the end of the escorting business and Never Sleep Inc. was opening a restaurant and garden shop in the city. In fact, they did work painting their new house, but once they finished their lives returned to the routine they followed in New York.

Then Homeland Security Investigations received a tip on its hotline that the three men may be victims of human trafficking.

Although those involved with the case are from Hungary, the problem of human trafficking is anything but foreign in the United States. In Miami, the underground sex trade brings in $235 million a year, and that’s not even the biggest market in the U.S. (that distinction goes to Atlanta, with a sex economy of $290 million a year).

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle emphasized that this is a domestic problem: “These individuals may have come from a different country to exploit the vulnerable, but they used the same basic trafficker tools of fear and intimidation to make their profits.”

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