Andrew Tate was arrested in Romania on Thursday in connection to a human trafficking case, as confirmed by officials to multiple outlets.
The controversial social media influencer, 36, appeared to be handcuffed as he was taken away from his villa in Bucharest, Romania, according to a report by Reuters. Tate is one of four suspects who was initially detained for 24 hours after authorities raided five homes; however, on Friday, Romanian prosecutors asked a Bucharest court to extend his arrest for 30 days. The suspects and homes are connected to a longstanding investigation regarding human trafficking, rape and an organized crime group, as per a press release from the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism.
Although the press release does not identify the suspects, a lawyer for Tate confirmed to Sky News that he and his younger brother, Tristan Tate, 34, were detained alongside two Romanian suspects.
While it’s unclear who is representing the British-American brothers, a spokesperson for Andrew told the Daily Mirror: “We cannot provide any details at the moment regarding alleged reports that they have been detained; however, Andrew and Tristan Tate have the utmost respect for the Romanian authorities and will always assist and help in any way they can.”
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Andrew has since spoken out following his arrest, tweeting, “The Matrix sent their agents,” on Friday.
According to Romanian daily newspaper Gândul, investigation into the group, which reportedly includes a suspected former policewoman, began back in April after the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest received a complaint that “a woman with American citizenship was being forcibly held at their residence.”
According to the paper, a number of young women were found inside a building located roughly 500 meters from the Bucharest villa. While speaking to investigators, the American woman claimed she met Tristan through a social media network and that he convinced her to purchase a plane ticket to Romania. The woman contacted her ex-boyfriend, who then reported the crime to the U.S. Embassy.
The press release states that “Victims were recruited by British citizens by misrepresenting their intention to enter into a marriage/cohabitation relationship and the existence of genuine feelings of love,” which the Directorate referred to as “the loverboy method.” Instead, the victims were later transported to buildings in the Ilfov County, the area surrounding Bucharest, where there were forced via physical violence and mental coercion to perform pornographic acts intended for social media distribution.
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Investigators have so far identified six victims whom they believe were exploited by the group.
The rape allegation dates back to an incident that occurred in March 2022, involving an injured person who was forced on two separate occasions to have sexual relations, as the press release details. In order to receive sex, the suspect was accused of using physical violence and psychological pressure.
“The four suspects… appear to have created an organized crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialized websites for a cost,” Romanian prosecutors told Reuters. “They would have gained important sums of money.”
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The outlet reports that the Tate brothers have been under investigation since April with Gândul noting that investigators waited to arrest them until they returned to Romania. Thanks to 19-year-old climate active, Greta Thunberg, authorities were able to move after she reportedly helped them confirm that Andrew was in the country by monitoring his social media activity.
Earlier this week, Andrew got into a Twitter feud with Thunberg after he directed a message to her about the “enormous emissions” that his 33 luxury cars contribute to the environment.
When Thunberg mocked his tweet, the former professional kickboxer hit back with another post that read in part: “I do agree you should get a life” alongside a video of him smoking a cigar at a table that had a pizza box on it. According to multiple reports, the pizza was from a Romanian pizza chain called Jerry’s Pizza, which enabled authorities to confirm his presence in the country.
Following his arrest, Thunberg clapped back at Andrew on Friday, tweeting, “this is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes.”
Tate rose to fame after starring on the 17th season of the reality series “Big Brother (UK)” in 2016. Now, he’s known for supporting misogynistic views and his controversial statements, such as stating that women are, in part, accountable for rape and that they belong to men, as per NBC News. He even describes himself as the “king of toxic masculinity.”