Peruvian authorities rescued at least 234 women, many of whom had reportedly been trafficked, from brothels in the remote region of Madre de Dios, on the southeastern border with Brazil and Bolivia.
Police raided 60 brothels in and around Puerto Maldonado, capital of the Tambopata province, on Sunday, and arrested five alleged traffickers. Officials stated that 10 minors were among those rescued, the youngest of who is reportedly 13 years old.
Asociacion Hurayo, a Peruvian NGO operating in the region, estimates that as many as 400 adolescents and 1,200 adults are working as prostitutes in Madre de Dios.
Madre de Dios is home to a large informal gold mining sector, and authorities estimate that hundreds of Peruvians from poor, rural communities arrive daily to the area, which produces approximately a fifth of all gold in the country. Many of these are miners, usually men who arrive without their families.
Following the operation, the government announced plans to install a “permanent state presence” in regional capital Puerto Maldonado, to combat crimes like illegal mining and drug trafficking, as well as trafficking in humans.
Human trafficking networks in Peru often prey upon poor or indigenous communities in remote areas like the Amazon region, where victims are recruited and sent to work as forced laborers or prostitutes, often in cities on the Pacific coast and other urban destinations.
(See La Republica’s video report, below.)