Cablegate: Update On Estonian Law Enforcement Tip Efforts

DE RUEHTL #0444/01 1901358
R 091358Z JUL 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary. Estonian law enforcement continues to
make significant progress in clamping down on
prostitution rings operating in Estonia. With new legal
tools for investigation and prosecution implemented in
Estonia's criminal code to fight trafficking-in-persons
(TIP), the police have been successful in infiltrating
and breaking up a number of brothels over the last three
years. Due to rapid economic growth, rising salaries
and a labor shortage, the number of individuals working
in commercial sex has also declined. Also, as a result
of a USG-sponsored roundtable on TIP, police have begun
to reach out to Estonian TIP-NGOs to improve information
sharing. While the expanded anti-TIP legislation has
been important, Police contacts also concede that TIP-
specific legislation might make it easier for them to
investigate and prosecute TIP cases. End Summary.

Police Making Progress in Tackling Commercial Sex
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (U) In November 2003, the Ministry of Internal
Affairs (MOIA) established a special unit within the
Estonian police to tackle illegal activities of
commercial sex in Estonia. As prostitution is legal in
Estonia and pimping is not, this unit's responsibility
was to focus on the criminality and organized crime
behind commercial sex, without punishing the prostitutes
involved. Since its inception, the unit has proven to
be highly effective. In 2004, there were an estimated
43 brothels and 70-80 apartments where prostitutes
operated. According to Estonian law enforcement
statistics and ATOLL, an Estonian NGO working with
prostitutes, there are now only four brothels and
roughly 30-40 apartments where prostitution takes place.

3. (U) Ardo Ranne, North Police Prefecture
Superintendent, told us that prior to 2003, the police
lacked the legal tools necessary to do anything more
than monitor the brothels. However, according to Ranne,
recent additional legal statutes (recommended by the
National Action Plan (NAP)) have given police more
investigative tools (e.g., wire taps, access to bank
records, phone records, tracking internet protocol (IP)
addresses, hidden surveillance, etc.). As most
commercial sex is advertised on the internet in Estonia,
the power to trace IP addresses has been invaluable for
the police as pimps now change apartment brothel
locations every couple of months. The police were also
given the power to investigate and arrest not only the
brothel owners, operators, and pimps, but also secondary
figures involved in the activity (e.g, bouncers at the
brothel, taxi drivers who knowingly deliver clients,
etc.) through Estonia's 15 TIP-related legal statutes
(reftel). At the moment, the police have 25 open cases
of trafficking-related offenses, 13 of which are under
active investigation. Four of these were opened in the
last three months. In the last year, the police also
conducted 10 raids to shut down apartment brothels (one
of which was right next to the Embassy). Ranne said
that these extra powers have enabled the police to
connect disparate cases and investigations. He cited
one example in 2006 of police merging six cases,
involving 20 prostitutes, when bank transfers and wire
taps revealed that they were all orchestrated by a
single individual.

Prostitution Declining in Estonia

4. (U) According to ATOLL, the police, and interlocutors
from the Ministry of Social Affairs (MOSA), the number
of women involved in prostitution in Estonia has
declined over the last few years. The police estimate
that there are no more than 1000 prostitutes operating
in the country. Citing one example, Ranne said that the
number of prostitutes working on street corners in all
of Estonia has dwindled to less than ten women.
Estonian NGOs and GOE agencies agree that the booming
economy is the main reason for this decline. Roman
Krolov, from ATOLL, explained that due to Estonia's
labor shortage wages have risen dramatically so that
even unskilled workers with limited Estonian-language
skills can find work at decent wages. According to
Ranne, the police know of only ten foreign prostitutes
(two from Russia, two from Lithuania, and six from
Latvia), none of whom they believe are TIP victims.
According to ATOLL, compared to what commercial sex
workers make in the more affluent Nordic countries,

TALLINN 00000444 002 OF 002

Estonia is still a less attractive destination for
prostitutes and foreign gangs as a country of

Persistent Challenges for the Police

5. (SBU) Due to Estonia's small size (population of 1.3
million) and the fact that over half of the country's
prostitutes operate in Tallinn, Ranne said the primary
difficulty police face is not finding prostitution, but
linking the money to pimps and organized gangs. Pimps
and gangs have become more careful to conceal their
involvement. Ranne said this has required more
surveillance and undercover intelligence for his unit.
One successful method employed by the police is using
undercover officers to pose as prostitutes. This work
is dangerous and personnel intensive ' because it also
requires officers to pose as clients. Ranne said that
police resources are starting to be strained in the
unit's work to infiltrate prostitution rings. He
admitted that TIP-specific legislation could be helpful
in reducing the time it takes to build a case. Ranne
has had informal discussions with his Ministry of
Justice (MOJ) counterparts. However, according to our
MOJ interlocutors, there are no plans to submit any TIP-
specific legislation to the GOE.

6. (SBU) Cooperation between Estonian law enforcement
and TIP NGOs continues to be a challenge. At a State-
Department funded TIP training conference on May 23-24
for GOE agencies involved in TIP and TIP-related crimes,
a dispute broke out between an ATOLL representative and
police offers participating in the training conference
regarding the lack of information sharing between the
two. Police officials were frustrated that ATOLL and
other TIP NGOs were not sharing information with police
because of concerns about confidentiality. Since the
conference, ATOLL, other Estonian NGOs and police
officials have held meetings to discuss how to better
cooperate. While they have not resolved the
confidentiality issue, Ranne said these initial meetings

have helped break down suspicions and distrust on both
sides. Ranne explained that the difficulty in
connecting the gangs and pimps to seemingly independent
apartment brothels has led the police to recognize that
'even the most trivial information from NGOs might help
fill in missing gaps to close a case or expose an
unknown wider prostitution network.'

7. (SBU) Comment. Estonian law enforcement is working
hard to close the remaining brothels and organized gangs
behind them. More importantly, the police are beginning
to recognize the utility in reaching out to NGOs and
having TIP-specific legislation. Post will continue to
monitor and encourage progress on both fronts.


© Scoop Media

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