Two Hungarian men face more than 200 years in prison after being convicted by a Miami-Dade jury of luring young gay men to the U.S. to serve as sex slaves. Gabor Acs and Viktor Berki are scheduled to be sentenced on April 7. They’ve been found guilty of human trafficking, racketeering and conspiracy because the victims were gay men forced to prostitute themselves for months in New York and Miami.
Márió Balog, 25, was one of their victims. Court documents show he and two victims at the center of the case were all in their early 20s, in 2012 when they were flown to New York City to work in what they thought was a legitimate business in the U.S. Their plan was to stay for a few months, earn money and return to Hungary.
Prosecutors say Balog and two others were fooled by the defendants, held against their will in virtual slavery, and forced to perform sex acts for webcams or serve as prostitutes in Miami and New York. The victims say they were particularly bullied and intimidated by Berki, who frequently reminded them he was a policeman in Hungary. According to prosecutors, the three were given little food and threatened with violence if they left.
Balog told SFGN he and the other victims were held against their will in a windowless room with no air conditioning with only a mattress on the floor while in Miami.
His story is in stark contrast to the portrait painted by defense attorneys who claimed Balog and the others were willing participants, who lied about being victims to avoid deportation back to Hungary.
“That was their defense,” said Balog’s fiancée Brian Suthers. “But the evidence spoke for itself.”
Balog said testifying in this trial was difficult and he’s glad it’s all behind him. He’s relieved that Acs and Berki were found guilty.
“I was crying,” he admitted. “And I couldn’t stop.”
Moving forward, Balog plans to stay in Florida. He’s pleased to be in love and happy to have companionship.
“I have not had a good relationship before,” he said. Now engaged to be married, Balog and Suthers are looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together. “Something good came out of all this,” Suthers said. “We met and I’ve stood by his side.”
Balog also hopes to become a translator or advocate for other human trafficking victims. “I know what they’ve been through and I want to help,” he said.
A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise money for the human trafficking victims in this case. You can donate at YouCaring.com/HelpTheLGBTtraffickingVictims.