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Costa Rica dismantles human trafficking network

Costa Rica on Thursday dismantled a human trafficking network that operated for the purpose of sexual exploitation, and authorities detained 10 people who led the operation, the Migration Directorate reported.

Immigration police carried out raids in various parts of the country, where they detained 10 members of the network of Costa Rican, Nicaraguan, Dominican and Panamanian nationalities, all of whom are being investigated for the crime of human trafficking, the Immigration Administration said in a statement.

The investigation began in 2019, when numerous indications of human trafficking were detected. They were traced to the existence of the criminal network, which was comprised of people who managed nine commercial establishments used for the sexual exploitation of women.

The members of the network published ads on local media and social networks to attract women of different nationalities, including Costa Ricans, Mexicans, Colombians, Dominicans, Panamanians and Nicaraguans with false job offers.

According to the Immigration Administration, the network targeted women in a vulnerable situation, which made them susceptible to the job offers. The women ended up being subjected to prostitution.

“This criminal network had a high economic level (and) despite the Covid-19 pandemic, they organized to continue operating clandestinely in commercial premises,” the statement said.

The immigration police “managed to demonstrate that this criminal network transferred the victims among the nine establishments that they maintained throughout the country with the appropriate structure to provide sexual services,” said the Migration Directorate.

It added that the criminal organization used threats to force women to stay in commercial establishments, preventing them from leaving without authorization.

Detainees face prison terms of eight to 16 years.

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