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A British model has been left traumatised after she was drugged and kidnapped in Milan while her captor sought to “auction” her on the internet if her agent did not pay $300,000 (£230,000), Italian police said Saturday. Police said the model, who has not been named, was sent by her UK agent to Milan for a photo shoot on July 10 and was brutally kidnapped the following day by a man who posed as a photographer. They are searching for at least one accomplice. “The psychological pressure on the girl has been extreme,” said Serena Ferrari, one of the senior police from Milan involved in the investigation. “She was very afraid.” Images supplied by Italian police showing a simulation of the kidnapping Credit: Polizia Di Stato When the 20-year-old model arrived at the fake studio near the city’s central railway station on July 11, she was injected with the drug ketamine before being undressed and photographed. Her kidnapper and an accomplice then handcuffed the young woman, taped her mouth shut and stuffed her in a large bag in the boot of their car before driving her more than two and a half hours to a remote house in Borgial, a tiny hamlet 120 miles from Milan close to the French border. She was kept handcuffed to a wooden chest of drawers inside a rented house for a week. Police said she was not raped. Her British agent notified police when she failed to return to London and he received the subsequent ransom demand. Lukasz Pawel Herba, 30, a Polish national from Szczecin who lives in the UK, was arrested by police and charged with the attack. Police said he had confessed to the kidnapping, which investigators described as an elaborate plot that involved months of planning. The model was held in a remote house Credit: Alberto Cattaneo Milan prosecutor Paolo Storari described him as "dangerous". The model was held captive for seven days while her kidnappers sought to “auction” her through a "dark web" network named as "Black Death", a group that investigators claimed had been previously investigated by Europol. “Europol found traces of this group on the "dark web" a couple of years ago,” the chief of the Milan branch of Italy’s state police, Lorenzo Bucossi, told the Daily Telegraph. “We don’t know if the accused is linked to an organisation or created his own version of Black Death." Prosecutor Mr Storari said it was unclear whether this organisation really existed or whether it was created by Mr Herba. However, he added: "We can say the accused was about to create an auction online. Police allege Mr Herba used a fake passport Credit: Polizia Di Stato “We have evidence he had contact with people who have kidnapped women in the past.” Police alleged there were three other cases of women being auctioned for sexual slavery on the kidnapper’s computer, but this was the only concrete case of an auction they had found. The model was released because she was a mother with a young child. “You have a two-year-old child and our rules exclude mothers,” the kidnapper allegedly told her, according to a report in the Corriere della Sera newspaper. When she was finally released, the captor demanded $50,000 and threatened to kill her if she reported the incident to the police. The kidnapper issued a chilling warning in what appears to be a contract taken from the accused’s computer. “You are being released with a warning. You are certainly aware of your value on human slavery market. A mistake was made by capturing you,” the document said in English. Pictures of the handcuffs supplied by Italian police Credit: Polizia Di Stato “You have agreed to pay outstanding costs of your release of $50,000. We expect that money to be paid in Bitcoin within one month. Any sort of disobedience will result in your elimination. “You have been treated fairly with respect and we expect to hear the same about us in return.” Milan police swooped when the kidnapper accompanied the woman to the UK Consulate in Milan on July 17. It is unclear why he accompanied her. Italian police said British and Polish investigators had been working with them closely on the investigation. A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We have been providing consular support to a British woman in Italy and are in touch with local authorities." Police are now seeking to identify and trace at least one accomplice. Police believe Mr Herba had spent months planning the attack and had obtained a false Polish passport under the name Daniel Zawada through the internet in May 2017. He allegedly used it to acquire a legitimate tax file number and rent two properties in Italy. He is also alleged to have acquired two balaclavas and a Bitcoin device on the web. Mr Herba’s neighbours in Birmingham described him as a loner who had few friends. The model was held for seven days in a small town outside Turin Credit: Alberto Cattaneo One man, who lives in the block next to Mr Herba's described how he would come and go, dressed in a cheap suit and driving a "banged up" car. "I would see him quite a lot, going in and out of the flat. He would always be wearing a suit when he was going to work," he said. "It wasn't an expensive-looking suit. He would go off to work in the morning, and then every half hour or so he would come back into the flat. It was weird." Another resident added: “You'd see him coming in and going again all of the time, but you could never really chat to him. Nobody ever came back with him." Police confirmed that a raid was carried out on Mr Herba's flat in the early morning of 18 July. A neighbour said: "I woke up to the sound of an officer shouting: 'Break the door down'. There was then a massive banging noise, and the door crashed open. "When I looked out of my window, I could see police officers in their uniforms moving plastic bags out of the flat and into their cars." One local resident, Sinead Boyce, 23 described Mr Herba as "a strange, strange bloke" who would walk around with 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. "Every now and then, we'd see him carrying a rat around with him. I don't think he had a name, the rat. "But during the summer months in particular, he'd have this rat on him. It was bizarre, really strange. One day my mum asked him if she could see it. "He came up close to her and she had a good look. But even then, he wouldn't speak to us. "I've never seen him with anyone else, either, other than his brother." Another resident added: "Yeah, I'd see him with the rat every now and then. I don't know why he had it."
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