Social media influencer Andrew Tate has reportedly been detained in Romania as part of a human trafficking and rape investigation.
The former kickboxer was held alongside his brother, Tristan, and two other suspects while his house was raided in the capital, Bucharest.
“The four suspects … appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost,” prosecutors said, according to the Reuters news agency.
A lawyer for the brothers has reportedly confirmed their detention.
Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) issued a statement, but did not name the Tates, stating that two British citizens and two Romanian citizens were suspected of being part of a criminal group focused on human trafficking.
According to the organisation, six injured people have been identified in relation to the investigation, one of whom is said to have been violently sexually assaulted in March.
Some of the suspects allegedly used the “loverboy” method of trafficking, which involves a man luring a victim into a relationship in order to sexually exploit them later on, DIICOT said.
The victims were subsequently transported and housed in buildings in Ilfov county, which surrounds Bucharest, where they were coerced into making pornographic content, it is alleged.
The Matrix sent their agents.
— Andrew Tate (@Cobratate) December 30, 2022
DIICOT also released a video of the raid, showing guns, knives, and money on display in one room.
In a Tweet that was posted later on Friday and appeared to suggest he had been released, Tate said: “The Matrix sent their agents.”
The post was the latest in a series of “matrix” references made by Tate, apparently to the movie franchise that depicts a fictionalised world in which humanity is trapped in a simulated reality.
The concept of the films has been co-opted by a number of far-right conspiracy theorists and men’s rights groups in recent years.
Since retiring from combat sports, Tate, 36, has received attention for his misogynistic commentary on social media.
He gained notoriety in 2016 when he was removed from British TV show Big Brother over a video that appeared to show him hitting a woman with a belt.
In 2017, he was banned on Twitter for saying that women should “bear responsibility” for being sexually assaulted, but was reinstated last month.
Earlier in the week, Tate sparked a war of words with 19-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg when he shared a picture of himself standing next to a Bugatti and claimed he owned 33 cars.
“Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions,” he tweeted, tagging Ms Thunberg.
She replied: “Yes, please do enlighten me. email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
In the video, Tate said: “I’m not actually mad at Greta because she doesn’t realise she’s been programmed, she doesn’t realise she’s a slave of the matrix, she thinks she’s doing good.”
Tate and his brother have been under investigation since April alongside two Romanian nationals.
Footage circulated widely on social media on Thursday appears to show Tate and his sibling being led away from a luxury villa.
He moved to Romania five years ago.