Fourteen Colombian women have been rescued from a transnational human trafficking ring in the Dominican Republic, authorities said Monday.
Officials from Colombia, the United States and the Dominican Republic arrested one American, three Dominicans and one Colombian involved with the organization.
He is alleged to be responsible for recruiting the women via social networks and coordinating their travel.
“The women, possibly victims of sexual exploitation, had been contacted in Colombia through social networks and were being held in four nightlife establishments in the city of Santo Domingo,” said Colombia’s Immigration Department in a press release.
The American, Rafael Elias Alcantara, is allegedly the leader of the trafficking ring for which he would travel regularly between Santo Domingo and Medellin.
The women, who range in age from 19-27 years old, were flown back to Colombia following their rescue, where they will receive medical attention and be reunited with their families.
The raid follows almost two years of investigation by international authorities into the human trafficking organization.
While trafficking is still an issue in the country, according to the United States’ State Department’s 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, Colombia is a Tier 1 country that “fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”