HomeNewsVenezuela’s Modeling Agencies Repeatedly Linked to Human Trafficking
NEWS

Venezuela’s Modeling Agencies Repeatedly Linked to Human Trafficking

GENDER AND CRIME / 5 MAY 2021 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

As sex trafficking has soared in Venezuela, seemingly legitimate modeling agencies are repeatedly being linked to cases of human trafficking, often sending women abroad.

The most recent case came in late April when the Sambil modeling agency in Venezuela was raided by authorities and four employees arrested on human trafficking charges, including director Jenny Rosales.

Rosales was arrested at Caracas’ Maiquetia international airport as she sought to travel to the Dominican Republic. According to Venezuela's Attorney General Tarek William Saab, Rosales took a number of the agency’s models and delivered them to a gang connected to illegal mining in the state of Bolívar.  The agency’s owners, Centro Sambil, promptly issued a statement denying any wrongdoing and stating it had no knowledge of any illegal activities.              

SEE ALSO: Human Trafficking Accompanies Illegal Mining in Venezuela’s Orinoco

The investigation into Rosales had begun in March when she allegedly tried to take seven women to the municipality of Sifontes in Bolívar and sell them to a human trafficking ring run by a known gang boss, Fabio Enrique González Isaza, alias “Negro Fabio,” according to women’s rights non-governmental organization, Tinta Violeta, cited by El Pitazo.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Sambil Model scandal is far from the first time modeling agencies have faced such accusations in Venezuela.

In September 2019, the Belankazar modeling agency was found to have allegedly been posting photos of minors, in swimsuits and cocktails dresses, on YouTube, Instagram and Russian social media site VKontakte. Exclusive photos of these children were reportedly offered to paying customers. The children were identified as “Mini Models.”

However, Belankazar's owners denied that any of these acts were illegal, stating that “in Latin American culture, especially Venezuela, it is more than accepted and normal that girls begin their training as models from an early age.”

Three of Belankazar’s owners were later arrested on charges of child exploitation but the agency remains active and the implicated executives remain prominently listed on its website.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela’s Other Plight: Sex Trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago

And in 2018, the Miss Venezuela beauty competition was accused of running an alleged prostitution ring, offering its models to rich Venezuelan businessmen. The founder of Miss Venezuela and its director for more than 40 years, Osmel Souza, resigned in March 2018 after a number of former beauty queens accused him of forcing them into sexual work for paying customers. However, he vehemently rejected any involvement in such dealings and has never been charged with any crime.

In 2019, his agency took over the organization of the Miss Argentina and Miss Uruguay beauty pageants.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 25 JUL 2022

Venezuelan gang, Tren de Aragua, has gradually become one of South America's main criminal threats, with Chile its latest target.

COVID AND CRIME / 16 DEC 2020

Several inmates at a Venezuela prison scaled a wall to escape to a part of the complex where prison bosses…

COLOMBIA / 1 JUL 2022

Colombian police uncovered a sex ring featuring underage migrants from Venezuela. Why does sex trafficking flourish in border areas?…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…