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Colombia arrests 17 for child prostitution, trafficking

15 october 2014, 14:42

 Twelve adults and five children suspected of child sex crimes and human trafficking have been arrested in Colombia in a joint operation with the United States, officials from both countries said Tuesday, AFP reports.

The suspects are accused of pimping, sex tourism, human trafficking and drug crimes, the Colombian prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Authorities said they also have arrested 43 female victims, 23 of whom were minors.

The suspects are accused of recruiting the youths from poor neighborhoods and drugging them with a hallucinogenic drugs that "produces a heightened erotic sensation," the prosecutor's statement said.

Some of the young recruits were then sold to pimps or brothels for one to two million pesos ($500 to $1,000), said Alexandra Ladino, head of the Colombian special task force involved in the sting.

The arrests took place in Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast, in the northeast city Medellin, and in Armenia, one of the main coffee growing cities in the central-west region.

US authorities tipped off Colombian police after they arrested an American man in Miami last Saturday for allegedly having sex with a minor in Medellin and filming it.

"The American was arrested for sex tourism, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 to 15 years in prison under US law," said Angie Salazar, a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Colombia.

Police warned parents to be extra-vigilant against potential sex predators.

"Beware of fake modeling agencies and of people promising (photographs) of young women to lure them into prostitution," Ladino said.

About 35,000 minors are involved in child prostitution in Colombia, according to the Colombian Family Welfare Institute.

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