A notorious criminal organization that traffics young women has been dismantled by police in the southwestern Colombian state of Valle de Cauca, according to reports from the state’s head of police.
Speaking at the 82nd Interpol General Assembly in Cartagena on Tuesday, General Rodolfo Palomino recounted how nine members of the criminal network were captured during police operations in the Valle de Cauca towns of Buga, Cerrito and Cartago.
Palomino said that his forces had found out that the gang was illegally trafficking women from Colombia to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, for forced prostitution and other forms of exploitative labor. He said: “They were not only subjected to forced labor but also to sexual exploitation.” He added that information obtained from Interpol was invaluable in making the arrests.
The heads of the gang were identified as aliases “Mary” and “Mona,” who had had been involved in recruiting people with false promises of employment and wages from particularly deprived municipalities of Candelaria, Cerrito, Buga and Cartago in Valle del Cauca.
Palomino also indicated that the gang was in part a family-run enterprise. “This is a gang that appeals especially to women who want to travel abroad with the promise of making money, but in reality it is sexual exploitation and even trafficking in organs.”
The gang operated by transporting the women through Europe on their way to the three Asian countries where they were stripped of their passports and kept captive by the organization’s criminal associates. There have been reports that at least 14 women have been victims of this particular gang.
Colombian press reported in May of this year that Valle de Cauca is the country’s most prolific for people trafficking and that the Home Office had conducted a national campaign in the state’s capital Cali to combat the problem, along with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Where the women were taken from: (from top) Cartago, Buga, Cerrito, Candelaria
- Desmantelan red de trata de personas en Valle del Cauca (El Espectador)
- Cae banda de trata de personas en Valle del Cauca (El Tiempo)
- El Valle del Cauca es el primero en trata de personas (HSBNoticias.com)