BERLIN — Prosecutors have charged five people with trafficking Thai women to Germany and forcing them to work in a nationwide network of brothels.

Frankfurt prosecutor Alexander Badle said Wednesday that four Thai women aged 49, 51, 53 and 60 were charged with trafficking transsexuals and women to Germany. A 60-year-old German man was also charged.

Prosecutors allege the victims were forced to work as prostitutes in three brothels in Siegen in western Germany before being transferred to other brothels across Germany.

Prostitution is legal in Germany but the suspects allegedly didn’t pay salaries or health insurance for the women and evaded millions in taxes.

Prosecutors say they identified 39 women trafficked between 2012 and 2017, but the number of women trafficked was likely several times higher.

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