British model Chloe Ayling on “terrifying” kidnap in Milan, Italy by alleged dark web sex slave trafficking gang

LONDON — A British model has told reporters about her ordeal at the hands of kidnappers who allegedly planned to auction her off as a sex slave to the highest bidder on the dark web.

Chloe Ayling, 20, told reporters Sunday morning outside her mother’s South London home that she didn’t know during her week-long captivity whether she would survive to tell the story.

“I’ve been through a terrifying experience. I’ve feared for my life, second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour,” she told the media, according to various U.K. newspaper accounts of her remarks.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the Italian and U.K. authorities for all they have done to secure my safe release. I have just arrived home after four weeks and haven’t had time to collect my thoughts. I am not at liberty to say anything further until I have been debriefed by the U.K. police.”

Authorities released an image of a state police officer crouching to fit inside a large, black suitcase found at the crime scene.

Polizia di Stato/Twitter

Milan police official Lorenzo Bucossi told reporters on Saturday that Ayling had come to Milan for what she thought was a photo shoot and was abducted on July 11. A statement from Milan police headquarters detailed her horrific experience, and announced the arrest of a Polish man in connection with it.

“Attacked, drugged, handcuffed and closed inside a suitcase, that’s how a 20-year-old English model was kidnapped on July 11 in Milan to be sold to the best offer,” the statement said.

On July 18, the day after he allegedly released Ayling and dropped her off at the British consulate in Milan, the suspect, 30-year-old Lukasz Pawel Herba, a Polish citizen with British residency, was taken into custody. The Milan police said he was jailed for investigation of suspected kidnapping for extortion purposes.

Bucossi, of the Milan police, said in announcing Herba’s arrest that the suspect of the “very serious crime is a dangerous person,” noting that he had threatened to kill Ayling if she failed to abide by the rules dictated by the criminal gang that alleged captured her.

Polizia di Stato/AP

“He was a killer and was working for an organisation on the deep web that is offering mercenary services such as bombing attacks, kidnapping and the selling of girls on the dark web,” Bucossi said.

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