LIMA (HPD) — Peruvian police fighting human trafficking and migrant smuggling discovered a criminal group that had migrant women among its victims, including six Venezuelan minors whom it allegedly sexually exploited even inside a prison. .
“We haven’t investigated a case like this before,” Col. Manuel Diaz, head of the human trafficking investigation division, told The Associated Press on Monday. For its part, the National Penitentiary Institute indicated that it is investigating the events, and the Minister for Women, Claudia Dávila, said that the case is “tremendously serious” for having occurred inside a prison.
The head of the Directorate Against Trafficking in Persons and Illicit Smuggling of Migrants, General Ulises Guillén, told the HPD that between January and October they have rescued 589 Venezuelan victims of trafficking, of which 28 were minors.
The police investigation lasted more than two months to observe, monitor and follow the members of the criminal organization, made up of Peruvians and Venezuelans. Díaz told the HPD that the agents last week entered “a brothel called El Rosal” in Huaral province, where they rescued three Venezuelan adolescents between 15 and 16 years old.
Later, in another location in Huaral —which was the place where the traffickers held the victims— they rescued another three Venezuelan adolescents between 16 and 17 years old. Díaz indicated that these victims had stamps on their forearms that the authorities in Peru place on those who enter prisons. The stamps were from the prison in Huacho, a city near Huaral, Díaz said.
The adolescents, along with another 19-year-old Venezuelan, were held captive and watched by two guards of the same nationality, an 18-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman. The latter was in charge of taking the victims to the Huacho prison, where they were sexually exploited.
Omar Méndez, head of the Peruvian prison agency, told RPP radio in the afternoon that the internal affairs unit is investigating the case. So far they have detected that on October 15 two Venezuelan women entered the Huacho prison, one of them very young with an apparently false identity document, along with an older woman.
Police say that a 47-year-old Venezuelan woman, nicknamed La Tuerta, who is in custody, admitted to officers that she was taking minors into prison to be sexually exploited.
Díaz indicated that the prison was just one of the places where Venezuelan adolescents were exploited by the gang made up of Peruvians and Venezuelans. The victims were also taken to some streets and hotels, and to a Huaral brothel in order to get as much money as possible from them, according to the investigations.
The six teenagers and the young Venezuelan woman faced a “fine” of $4,200 with their captors. The head of the investigators indicated that the recruitment method is usually carried out through social networks or using a fellow national, who convinces them under a false job offer.
“They tell them: ‘you are going to work as a hostess, a model, a waitress, a clothing seller,’ and since people have the resounding need to leave due to the economic crisis in Venezuela, they travel through Colombia, Ecuador until they reach to Peru,” Diaz said.
In Peru they become slaves. “Bringing you has cost me, your ticket costs, your food costs, it also costs to pay for you to cross the borders, you are my ‘fine’ and you have to pay me that debt,” added Díaz, referring to the way in which the traffickers target their underage victims.
Without a family and completely uprooted, the minors submit to their captors, who exploit them sexually. Those who dare to rebel are threatened with death, and those who defy traffickers can end up killed by hitmen, she added, recalling at least two deaths in a separate case that occurred in October.
Over time, the captors begin to impose “fines” on the victims for various reasons. “The fines increase one after another until they practically become unpayable; it is the slavery of the 21st century,” said Díaz.