26 September 1998
Colombia launches crackdown on child prostitution

                  BOGOTA, Sept 26 (Reuters) - A total of 370 minors were freed from the
                  clutches of child prostitution rings in overnight raids on sex shops across
                  Colombia, authorities said on Saturday.

                  Gen. Ismael Trujillo, head of the judicial police known as the Dijin, said the
                  raids were conducted in Colombia's major cities beginning late on Friday
                  and ending on Saturday morning as part of an operation dubbed "Infante."

                  Twenty-nine adults were arrested in the swoop and Trujillo told reporters
                  police had "rescued" 370 child prostitutes, aged between 12 and 16.

                  "They were being forced to prostitute themselves," Trujillo said.

                  Police sources said many of the minors had been held in virtual "slave-like
                  conditions" and subjected to a whole catalogue of abuse.

                  At least 145 of the minors were found in sex parlours in the popular
                  Caribbean resort of Cartagena, which police have described as the centre of
                  Colombia's rapidly-growing "sex tourism" trade.

                  It was not immediately clear if any of the 29 people arrested were

                  Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.