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An international child-trafficking ring that allegedly included a former Olympic medalist has been broken with seven arrests, police in Sicily said Thursday.
Charges including human trafficking and kidnapping minors abroad, often with violence, have been laid against suspects working in countries including Tunisia, Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon, said police.
Suspects include Larysa Moskalenko, 50, originally of Ukraine, who won a bronze medal in sailing at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and owns a company that rents luxury boats near Palermo.
Police say they used wiretaps during their investigation dubbed "Charon", which began last fall, and allege that boats used for child trafficking were rented from Moskalenko, who reportedly moved to Palermo 20 years ago.
In some cases, parents were forced to pay as much as 200 thousand euros to recover an abducted child. The criminal network is believed to stretch from Sicily into north Africa as well as through northern and eastern Europe. Others charged include three Italians, two Norwegian nationals and a Swede.