Colombia cracks down on child sex trafficking network
... run by Israelis
The office of Colombia’s attorney general said eight of the suspects have been arrested, including six Israelis.
The video shows Colombian police carry out an arrest at one of the locations:
The alleged sex trafficking ring provided Israeli tourists with “tourism packages” which included prostitutes, some of whom were minors, who received between 200,000 pesos ($63) to 400,000 pesos ($126) in return for sexual services.
Colombian authorities said that Israeli tourists would stay at hotels and take yacht trips and go to private parties with drugs and alcohol, in which women and minors were offered as “sex slaves.”
The members of the trafficking ring will be charged with murder, conspiracy, human trafficking, trafficking in minors, drug manufacturing, providing prostitution services and money laundering. All of the suspects were wanted by international police agency Interpol on suspicion of pimping and soliciting minors for prostitution.
Authorities raided a number of properties including a spa in Santa Marta, a hostel in Bogota, and a building known as “Casa Medellin.” The suspects were arrested in a number of locations around the country, and property worth around $45,000 was seized as part of the investigation.
The Colombian Attorney General posted a video on Twitter claiming that it showed properties owned by the trafficking ring.
Colombian media reported that the leader of the ring is an Israeli named Mor Zohar, while one of the arrested is a Colombian police officer.
The attorney general’s office said 150 billion pesos ($47.3 million) of property has been seized during the investigation, including hotels, hostels and other tourism related businesses.
The investigation into the trafficking ring has been happening since June 2016, when an Israeli citizen – Shai Azran was murdered in Medellin. The prime suspect of the murder was Assi Ben-Mosh, a 44-year-old Israeli who has operated in Colombia since 2009. He was arrested in the Netherlands in 2003 on suspicions of leading an international drug trafficking network.
Authorities tracked Ben-Mosh’s activities in Colombia and found that he was the owner of a hotel in Santa Marta, Hotel Benjamin, that offered the “tourism packages.” He together with Zohar also allegedly organized parties at which drugs and sex services were sold.
Police in Colombia arrested 18 people in a raid on Hotel Benjamin hostel in Cartagena in July. The suspects are accused of running a sex ring, recruiting young girls from Colombia and Venezuela and forcing them to work as sex slaves.
The network is suspected of operating in a number of cities in Colombia, including the capital Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta.