A British model was drugged, cuffed, transported in a suitcase and held captive for six days in Italy by a man who planned to sell her online, officials said Saturday.
The unidentified 20-year-old woman, who traveled to Milan for what she thought was a photo shoot, was released because she is a mother — making her undesirable to human traffickers, according to reports.
Officials detailed a disturbing set of events that miraculously came to an end with the woman alive — and free.
A photographer booked the July 11 session through the model’s agent, but things took a dark turn as soon as she arrived.
A pair of men attacked the woman as she entered the apartment where the appointment was to take place.
They jabbed a syringe full of ketamine, a horse tranquilizer, into her arm and threw a pillowcase over her head. After handcuffing the helpless woman, they stuffed her into a cramped suitcase.
“The kidnappers loaded the suitcase with the girl (inside) into a car trunk” and drove to a farmhouse outside of Turin, police said.
In the house, “the model was kept handcuffed to a wooden dresser in a bedroom” until she was released on July 17, the police said.
A 30-year-old man, arrested the day after the model was freed, was identified as Lukasz Herba, a Polish citizen with British residency.
Police believe Herba advertised the “sale” of the woman online, while at the same time demanding ransom from the woman’s agent of $ 300,000.
“Analysis of his email shows this man belonged to an organization called ‘Black Death’,” Milan prosecutor Paolo Storari said in a media conference Saturday, The Telegraph Reported.
“We have evidence he had contact with people who have kidnapped women in the past,” Storari said.
Black Death is a dark web group known for human trafficking.
Herba was busted on July 18, after dropping his captive off at the British consulate in Milan, police said.
Authorities said as far as they know, no ransom was paid.
Corriere della Sera, a Milan newspaper, reported the kidnapper let his victim go only because she came out of her drug-induced stupor long enough to tell him that she has a child.
“You have a 2-year-old child and our rules exclude mothers,” the abductor allegedly told the young mom, according to the newspaper.
Herba issued a chilling warning in what appears to be a contract taken from his computer, according to the Telegraph.
“You are being released with a warning,” he wrote in English. “You are certainly aware of your value on human slavery market. A mistake was made by capturing you.”
But police officials Lorenzo Bucossi told reporters it was unclear why the woman was released.
“The psychological pressure on the girl has been extreme,” Serena Ferrari, one of the senior police officers involved in the investigation told The Telegraph. “She was very afraid.”
Police believe Herba, who lived in Birmingham, spent months planning the abduction.
One neighbor, Sinead Boyce, 23, described Herba as “a strange, strange bloke” who would walk around with a rat on his shoulder.
“He would come and go all the time with his brother, I think they were working on something together. They just seemed to use the flat as a bit of a base,” she told The Telegraph.
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