By Brendan Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
SANTIAGO, Chile – Early Thursday, a four month investigation came to a head when Chile’s Investigative police (PDI) raided, uncovered and shutdown a child prostitution ring in downtown Santiago.
The network prostituted girls from the ages of 12-17. They were then sent to clients’ homes and neighborhoods to engage in their illicit business.
While prostitution is not technically illegal in Chile, the prostitution of children is, as is the operation of a brothel. And police shut down two underground brothels in conjunction with their investigation. Subsequent raids were launched throughout the night, with a strike force of about 60 officers who began arresting clientele.
This raid and subsequent arrests are due to President Sebastian Pinera’s much lauded mandate to combat child sex abuse. To effectively combat this, they have begun a system similar to the United States convicted sex offenders database, along with banning convicted pedophiles from working with or near children.
A client list was also uncovered, and those listed on its rolls should be worried. Whether intentional or through negligent leaks, the names of famous clients have been revealed to the media. Ranging from former mayoral candidate of the Christian Democrat Party to the creator of a popular children’s’ comic book, who when arrested and questioned denied all allegations to having relations with a minor. He insisted that he paid the brothel for “a girl over 18 years of age.” However the big name seems to be Jaime Román, a local television personality and music producer. According to police reports he was actively having sex with a minor when police broke down his door. These infamous individuals were arrested during the subsequent raids which raised the arrested number up to 19.
Of the 19 arrested, five were arrested at the brothel and will be subsequently charged for obtaining sexual services from minors, while the owners will be charged with the prostitution of minors.
The Christian Democracy party has formally denounced the formal mayoral candidate, and if found guilty noted that “[W]e declare that any member of the Christian Democracy involved in this kind of case, will be expelled from the party.”
The shocking information revealed by the investigation is that many of the girls abused and active in the child prostitution ring were there with their parents’ knowledge, and their parent’s permission. The Interior Minister has condemned the actions of all those involved, but it is uncertain at this moment what levels of liability the parents may face.
For further information, please see:
BBC News – Chile Police Raid ‘Child Prostitution Ring’ in Santiago – 16 November 2012
I Love Chile News – Child Exploitation Ring Busted In Santiago – 16 November 2012
Santiago Times – Chile’s Investigate Police Uncover Child Prostitution Ring – 16 November 2012
La Segunda Online – Thwart Child Prostitution Ring: Today Formalized 19 Arrested – 16 November 2012
I Love Chile News – My Two Cents: Cafe con Piernas – Legs with your Coffee? – 26 October 2012