Colombian authorities supported by United States Immigration and Customs have dealt a blow to child prostitution in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, arresting nine, including a former beauty pageant queen.
Agents from the US Immigration and Customs Office went undercover in Cartagena to pose as pedophile tourist and assist a Colombian team of five prosecutor general officials, forensic investigators, army, and the NGO Operation Underground to bust a pimp ring that offered sex parties with underage children, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper.
Colombian authorities have been fighting hard against a very well established sex tourism business in the country and especially in Cartagena.
The investigation started a year ago when US Immigration and Customs started following the movements of an American that would travel frequently back and forth between Cartagena and Miami. The American would meet a taxi driver that would give him explicit recordings of young boys and girls.
The group would pimp youth at parties in the Islas del Rosario and would use taxi drivers in Cartagena to spread the message and acquire clients. Many of the minors would be drugged with 2cd, a drug similar to ecstasy.
The joint operation resulted in the arrest of five individuals in the pimp-ring. The same men and women allegedly tried to sell an underage child for $500.
Among those arrested was 20 year old Kelly Johana Suarez, who last year was a contestant for Miss Cartagena. Suarez is accused of recruiting youth in the slums of Cartagena to go to parties with foreigners. Authorities suspect that Suarez used a modeling agency as a front to recruit youth for sex tourism.
The operation in Islas del Rosario resulted in “the recovery of 60 adolescents and youth, among them 25 underage children – 19 girls and 6 boys -, who were found at the site where the parties were carried out along with five people who are being investigated for sexual exploitation of children,” said the director of the Prosecutor General’s office in the northern state of Bolivar.
A similar pimp-ring bust in Medellin resulted in the saving of 43 youth, including 23 underage girls and boys.