An operation dismantled transnational networks dedicated to people trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, and revealed how, in the Dominican Republic, this crime has been strengthened.
Edilberto F. Méndez
Sexual exploitation is a crime that has support from many sectors and is a scourge that affects many countries across the world. However, in the Caribbean nation, it just received a tough blow from Operation Cattleya, headed by the country’s Attorney General.
Thanks to this operation, 80 women were rescued.
Their actions directed by the Prosecutor’s Office, revealed the strength of this phenomenon and the strong grip it had, after several raids carried out in the capital and Bavaro, in the province of La Altagracia.
According to Johanna Bejaran, the Special Prosecutor against the Illicit Trade of Migrants and People Trafficking (PETT), there were 25 public prosecutors present in the operation, with more than 200 National Police officers and 50 investigative technicians and victim care specialists.
As a result of these arrests, 14 people are currently being investigated, accused by the trafficking crime commission, including two people from Colombia and six from Venezuela.
According to Bejaran, the accused created a transnational criminal organisation dedicated to kidnapping women between 18 and 23 years of age, in this case in Colombia and Venezuela, for the crime commission.
The young women were held in the Caribe Hotel in the capital, and in the Coco Real Residential Home in Bavaro, with the promise of a well-paid job in this nation. Nevertheless, in the end everything was a trap and they were sexually exploited.
Once they were brought to the country, victims were forced to admit they had acquired a debt of between $3000 and $4000 with the networks; they moved them and subjected them to degrading and subhuman treatment and they did not allow them any freedom.
The victims of this scheme were offered to clients for an hourly price of 5000 to 6000 pesos ($90-$126) in the area of Santo Domingo, and between $100 and $150 in Punta Cana.
The clients were attracted by the organisation’s staff, who showed them catalogues filled with images of women that were on display and ready to receive them. Nevertheless, there were also ‘home delivery’ options, and in this case, they moved the victims to their destinations according to what they had been contracted to do.
Another detail found in the case, is that the women had no freedom of action, nor “free time”. They had to stay in their places of residence and be available for whenever a client solicited them.
Those involved carried out roles from working on capturing the South American women, to those who dedicated themselves to promoting them through the catalogue.
According to the Attorney General’s files, the network was run by Jose Miguel Michel Guridi, Daniel Enrique Inirio, Jose Alberto Soriano and Cristina Virginia Gonzalez. Another suspect by the name of Maria Paula Murillo and a man identified as Richard Renne Rivera were the ones responsible for abducting the foreign women.
PETT’s accusation specified that the womens’ transfer to a home was one of the roles of Police Sergeant Dionicio Mieses de la Cruz, alongside seven others who were involved.
The operation took on the name of Cattleya because of a plant species known as the Queen of the Orchids, which is primarily found in Colombia, but is also present from Costa Rica to Panama and even in Ecuador and Argentina, likewise known as the May Flower or May Lily. Due to this analogy with the female victims, this is what the Attorney General’s Office decided to call this process.
Finally, Dominican authorities stated that many of these women brought to this nation were fleeing from their abusers’ hands and their testimonies will surely come to light in the process, which will take place in front of the courts. Furthermore, it was known that six of the testimonies that will be presented belong to undercover agents participating in the investigation of this network. PL
(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay