Haiti police rescue dozens, arrest 12 in human trafficking ring
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) — Police in Haiti over the weekend rescued dozens of women and girls on the verge of being sold, and placed 12 suspected human traffickers under arrest, authorities said.
Officials said the arrests took place Sunday at a tourist resort outside the capital Port-au-Prince after a three month investigation.
"We found 33 girls, 20 of them minors, piled together in one room," Danton Leger, government commissioner for Port-au-Prince, told local radio.
"In another room there were 12 people — four women and eight men — with what appeared to be marijuana and cocaine," Leger said. The raid took place at the Kaliko Beach Club, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) outside the capital.
"Last week, we received information that young girls were being sold for 300 dollars each," said Leger, who holds a post equivalent to government prosecutor.
Police seized a computer said to contain pornographic videos involving child victims, he added.
Witnesses interviewed by police said that girls as young as 13 were lured to the resort with promises of a beach vacation, only to fall victim to the traffickers.
"These people are suspected of trafficking in minors and of sexual exploitation," said national police spokesman Garry Desrosiers.
Haiti has been placed on the US State Department's black list of nations where human trafficking has flourished, largely because of a failure to vigorously investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence traffickers.
Other nations on the list are Surinam, Myanmar, Djibouti, Papua New Guinea, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.