Authorities in Honduras say they are investigating a criminal network involved in the exploitation of women and young girls, with evidence suggesting the group trafficked victims abroad using false documentation.
After two weeks of surveillance, the Special Prosecutor for Children and the National Directorate of Special Investigation Services (Dnsei) carried out a raid at a massage parlour in the Jardines del Valle area in the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula.
At the property, which was operating as a brothel, police discovered two young women, a 21-year-old and a 22-year-old and one minor under 16 years of age. The two older women have been released while the minor has been sent to a center run by the Honduran Institute for Children and Families. A woman believed to be managing the business was arrested.
Julian Hernandez, head of Dnsei in San Pedro Sula, said police have evidence that a network operating in the country was recruiting women from rural areas, luring them with the promise of legitimate jobs in the city. “All the indications are that the traffickers are recruiting young people lured from rural parts of the country," said Hernandez.
Hernandez also said evidence suggests that women and girls working in the brothel were being sent abroad, to Mexico, other regions of Latin America and possibly Europe. The minor rescued from the brothel, Hernandez said, had a false identity card and passport, which showed that she has travelled to Nicaragua and Panama.
An investigation is under way into whether false documentation was provided to those trafficking the women by corrupt state officials.
Human trafficking is a lucrative business and a serious problem in Honduras. A report funded by the Ricky Martin Foundation found that human trafficking generates $9.6 billion in profits worldwide last year, making it the second most profitable criminal activity after drug trafficking.