Guatemala has announced the dismantling of an international human trafficking ring that lured young Guatemalan women to Jordan, where they were forced to work in prostitution.
In a press conference, Guatemalan Interior Minister Carlos Menocal said that police had arrested two Guatemalans and two Jordanian nationals, who were described as the leaders of the gang. The four have been charged with human trafficking offenses and forging documents.
Menocal said that "young helpless women” were lured to Jordan with the false promise of legitimate employment in various cities across the country. The gang posted advertisements in several local newspapers across Guatemala, promising young women opportunities to work in the Middle Eastern country as domestic servants, nannies and secretaries with a monthly salary of $400.
However, when the women arrived in Jordan, they were sold for sexual exploitation. The victims were allegedly subject to beatings and forced to work long hours with only one meal a day.
According to the minister, 11 young Guatemalan women have been repatriated from Jordan since June this year, after the operation was initiated following a complaint by two women who had managed to flee Jordan.
Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said that in capturing the leaders of the gang, police dealt a “heavy blow” to those involved in human trafficking in Guatemala.
With crackdowns on drug trafficking by governments in the region, criminal organizations are increasingly shifting into human trafficking as a way to make money.
According to a report funded by the Ricky Martin Foundation, human trafficking is the second most lucrative criminal activity worldwide, bringing in $9.6 billion in profits last year.