Anti-mafia police have broken up a human trafficking gang in central Romania. Three men and two young boys were initially found chained up but were rescued by police during searches of the homes of suspects.
Around 50,000 euros were also discovered along with a kilo of gold.
By the time the operation had finished at least 40 victims had been recovered . Many claim to have been beaten, fed scraps of food and forced into manual labour or fighting for entertainment.
As police began arresting suspects, most denied knowing anything or of being involved.
More than 90 people were eventually taken into custody.
Investigators say many of the victims had been held over eight years. They were all vulnerable young people, some with mental and physical disabilities who had been forced into slavery. In some cases, victims had been kidnapped near train stations or churches or even from their homes, according media reports.
Some of the details under which children were allegedly held, shocked officers. Investigators claim some children were kept in chains, locked-up at night, beaten and doused with cold water.
The network appears to have been extensive and may have been operating since 2008, during which they kidnapped and forced many minors to work hard physical work and go begging in various large cities in across Romania.