35 Colombian teens flee from Catholic facility

Still: City TV)

Local police are still searching for 21 girls who remain missing after escaping a residential facility for troubled youth in central Colombia Tuesday.

A total of 35 female minors fled from a Catholic foster center for neglected and drug addicted youth on Tuesday night, located in central Colombian state of Cundinamarca, El Tiempo reported.

During the night police were able to track down some of the fugitive minors. Three were located in Funza, and another 11 were found in Bogota. According to El Tiempo, 21 of the girls are still missing.

Police commander of Cundinamarca, Colonel Flavio Mesa, stated that the minors are between 15 and 17, and stressed that they are not guilty of any crime. He added that the escapees are being housed at the foster home for treatment for neglect, child- or drug abuse.

El Espectador quoted a father of one of the fugitive minors, explaining that the girls escaped by immobilized their guardian, wrapping her in a sheet and stealing her keys.

Treatment center

The residential facility from which the girls escaped is run by the NGO Cotecol, a religious organization administered by the Congregation for Religious Tertiary Capuchins of Our Lady of Sorrows.

According to Cotecol’s website, the institute specializes in therapeutic improvement of life for people with addiction problems and other vulnerable individuals in need of therapeutic help.

Access to treatment for drug abuse is limited in Colombia, and only 25 in 32 states offer aid to drug users, according to the national healthcare registry. Most facilities are concentrated in cities, and 84% of them are private.

A 2014 report by Consortium on Drugs and the Law (CEDD) revealed that the overwhelming majority of drug treatment centers in Colombia are operating illegally and with no government oversight.

MORE: Colombia kicks off 1st clean needle program for drug addicts


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