Controversial online influencer Andrew Tate has been detained in Romania as part of a human trafficking and rape investigation.
In Bucharest, the capital, Mr. Tate’s home was searched while he and his brother Tristan were being held captive.
The arrests were confirmed to the BBC by a police spokesperson.
The former kickboxer gained notoriety in 2016 after being removed from the British television programme Big Brother because of a video that purported to show him assaulting a woman.
As a result of his comments that women should “carry responsibility” for being sexually assaulted, he later gained prominence online and was banned from Twitter. He was later given a second chance.
Despite social media bans he gained popularity, particularly among young men, by promoting an ultra-masculine, ultra-luxurious lifestyle, appearing in videos with his fleet of expensive sports cars, private jets and on expensive holidays.
An official from the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) told the BBC that prosecutors had requested to detain the influencer for a further 30 days in a “detention centre.” On Friday in the afternoon, a court will make a decision regarding the application.
In a statement, DIICOT claimed that the four suspects “appears to have constructed an organised crime gang with the objective of recruiting, housing, and exploiting women by compelling them to produce pornographic content intended to be viewed on specialised websites for a fee.”
The brothers and two Romanian citizens have been under investigation since April.
According to a representative for Mr. Tate, he was unable to give the Daily Mirror any information about the arrest. However, he continued, “Andrew and Tristan Tate have the best regard for the Romanian authorities and would always cooperate and assist in any way they can.
A video that has gone viral on social media purports to show Mr. Tate and his brother being carried out of a mansion.
Two British and two Romanian citizens were suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation that specialised in human trafficking, according to a statement from Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), which did not mention the Tate brothers by name.
According to the statement, authorities had discovered six victims of “sexual exploitation” by what was described as a “organised criminal cell.” Police claimed that the British nationals “recruited” the victims by lying about their desire to date them, a practise they referred to as “the loverboy method.”
The statement said that later on, under threat of violence, they were made to perform in pornographic content.
Additionally, a video of the raid was made public, in which firearms, knives, and cash were displayed.
Five years ago, Mr. Tate relocated to Romania.
Following the posting of a video in which he attacked the environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg, rumours circulated online that police had been made aware of Mr. Tate’s presence in the nation. However, it’s not thought that this is the case.
He received a pizza box from a nearby restaurant in the video he posted, which some users theorised might have accidentally given cops his location.
This week’s argument with Ms. Thunberg got started when Mr. Tate, 36, included the activist in a post boasting about the “enormous emissions” his fleet of vehicles produced.
This is what happens when you don’t recycle your pizza boxes, Ms. Thunberg tweeted after the arrest, alluding to the viral rumour.
Mr. Tate, a British citizen who was born in the US, competed professionally in kickboxing and won world championships before becoming well-known worldwide.
He entered the Big Brother house in 2016, but was quickly sent out after a video surfaced that purported to show him slapping a woman with a belt.
When he was kicked off the show, Mr. Tate claimed that the footage had been altered and described it as “a pure fake attempting to make me appear terrible.”
As a result of his comments that women should “carry responsibility” for being sexually assaulted, he later gained prominence online and was banned from Twitter.
With the statement that “misogyny is a vile ideology that is not permitted,” Mr. Tate has been blocked from social media sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. TikTok has also removed him.
He had been blocked from Twitter, but after Elon Musk took control, he was recently permitted to return.
The BBC’s disinformation and social media correspondent Marianna Spring stated earlier this year that his writing has “raised worries about the real-world effect it could have.” His posts on other online forums advocate bigotry, target women, and receive millions of views.