Three girls were able to escape a Bogota-based sex trafficking group that is alleged to be holding 20 more minors captive for sexual exploitation, local authorities said Monday. Three suspects have been apprehended.
The authorities were notified of the organization after three of the captive girls escaped and reported their captivity.
As a result of the girls’ reports, three raids were conducted in the city center. Police did not find any more victims but did find narcotics and adulterated alcohol. During the operations, three alleged members of the human trafficking organization were arrested.
According to newspaper El Tiempo, the three girls were originally from the southwestern Valle del Cauca state, but had been moved to the capital city to be exploited.
UNICEF officials have reported that Bogota is one of Colombia’s biggest hotspots for sex tourism, including the exploitation of children. The international organization also noted that other big cities like Cartagena, Medellin, and Barranquilla also have high rates of child sexual exploitation.
In the past two years, Colombia has seen more than 300 cases of child sexual exploitation. The secretive nature of the crime means that there are many more cases that remain unreported.