06 Apr 2021
A sophisticated human trafficking network dismantled in Colombia, illustrates a pattern in how Venezuelan citizens, particularly women, are recruited.
On March 27, Colombian authorities managed to arrest and indict members of an organized criminal group (Grupo de Delincuencia Organizado – GDO) known as “Los PEP,” who are charged with human and migrant trafficking. The network, led by Luis Enrique García, alias “El Chamo,” managed to permeate the institutions responsible for issuing immigrant identification and control documents.
The network sold Venezuelan citizens, particularly women from Zulia, a department on the Venezuelan border, false residency permits and promised them well-paid work in Colombia. After transporting them through clandestine routes to cities such as Cúcuta, Valledupar and Villanueva, the women were sexually exploited.
According to a press release by Colombia’s Attorney General’s Office, “when the women arrived in Colombia, they offered them a place to stay, food and clothing, but they then forced them to participate in prostitution until they could pay the debt they acquired for the papers to cross the border and their room and board. If the women refused, they threatened to deport them or post naked photos of them on social media.”
Additionally, Los PEP issued false documents for Italian, German, French, Argentine, Panamanians, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Dominicans and Guatemalans with legal problems and criminal records.
By Laura Avila, InSight Crime, 5 April 2021
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