Romanian police raided the home of prominent pro-Trump online personality Andrew Tate this month as part of a human-trafficking investigation, bringing new attention to Tate’s ties to leading figures in the American MAGA movement.
Before the April 11 raid, Tate was best known as a kickboxer and vocal Trump supporter in the online far right. On social media, Tate portrayed himself as a wealthy cigar-smoking playboy, prompting one admirer to dub him the “king of toxic masculinity.”
But Tate’s treatment of women had an ugly side. In 2016, he was booted off the British version of Big Brother over a video of him hitting a woman with a belt. This March, Britain’s Daily Mirror tabloid profiled him and his brother Tristan Tate and their Romania-based business which used webcam models to trick men into sending the brothers tens of thousands of dollars. In one video on his YouTube channel, Andrew Tate said “40 percent” of the reason he moved to Romania was because Romanian police were less likely to pursue sexual assault allegations.
Tate’s unsavory activities didn’t stop him from building links with the stars of the Trumpian right. In 2019, Tate palled around Washington, D.C. with prominent online Trump activists and conspiracy theorists. He shared a meal with far-right cable news commentator Jack Posobiec and Infowars host Paul Joseph Watkins, and appeared multiple times on Infowars shows.
In Trump’s Washington hotel, Tate posed for a picture with Brexit advocate Nigel Farage, and sat in a group in the Trump hotel lobby with the likes of Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich and future Jan. 6 protest organizer Ali Alexander. Cernovich visited the Tate brothers in Romania later that year, describing them as his “friends” in the description of his podcast.
While Cernovich built his name online by making false human-trafficking claims about a Washington pizzeria, the Tates may soon be accused of genuine human trafficking. In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, Romania’s Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism said the raid on the Tates’ house was part of an investigation that began after a woman was reported to be held at the house against her will. As the probe continued, it escalated to include “crimes of human trafficking and rape.”
Video from the raid show police officers armed with rifles milling among the Tates’ sports cars, with a neon “TATE” logo on a wall in the background. Another video showed Tate and his brother being shoved into vans by police officers before being driven away from their homes.
A Romanian newspaper reported that the raid was sparked over reports that an American woman was being held captive at the Tate house. Police found both the American and a Romanian woman in the building during the raid, according to the report. In a statement on the raid to The Daily Beast, a U.S. State Department spokesperson alluded to a reported abduction of an American citizen but declined to comment further.
“We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen held against their will in Romania,” the spokesperson said. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."
The Tate brothers didn’t respond to requests for comment. Tate’s pro-Trump colleagues—Cernovich, Watkins, Posobiec, and Alexander—also didn’t respond to emails from The Daily Beast.
Tate appeared to address his arrest in an Instagram picture posted after his arrest, featuring him smoking a cigar in a staged interrogation room as faux-police officers loomed over him. Tate added a caption: “Officer...l think we can all agree that bitches love to lie.”
The raid on the Tates’ villa isn’t the first time that the “manosphere,” the far-right men’s online community that Tate belongs to, has been tied to serious criminal activity. In December, a prominent manosphere personality went on a killing spree in Denver, murdering five people before being fatally shot by a police officer.