Twelve Israelis Suspected of Running Child Sex Trafficking Network in Colombia

Six Israelis arrested, Colombian authorities say ■ Network allegedly sold 'tourism packages' including prostitutes – some of whom were minors

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Law enforcement authorities in Colombia suspect 12 Israelis of running a sex-trafficking network alongside two Colombians. The office of Colombia's attorney general said eight of the suspects have been arrested, including six Israelis. 

The alleged sex trafficking ring provided Israeli travelers with “tourism packages” that included prostitutes, some of whom were minors, who received between 200,000 pesos ($63) to 400,000 pesos ($126) in return for sexual services.

Among the charges against the members of the trafficking ring are murder, conspiracy, human trafficking, trafficking in minors, drug manufacturing, providing prostitution services and money laundering. The leader of the ring in an Israeli named Mor Zohar, media in Colombia reported, while one of those arrested is a Colombian police officer.

The attorney general’s office said 150 billion pesos ($47.3 million) of property has been seized during the investigation, including hotels, hostels and other tourism related businesses. 

The investigation began after the murder of Israeli Shai Azran in Medellin in June 2016. The police in Colombia suspect the murderer was Assi Ben-Mosh, a 44-yaer-old Israeli who has operated in Colombia since 2009. Ben-Mosh was arrested in 2003 in the Netherlands on suspicions of leading an international drug trafficking network.

Colombian authorities tracked Ben-Mosh’s activities in the South American nation and found that he owned a hotel in Santa Marta, Hotel Benjamin, and offered “tourism packages” and organized parties at which drugs and sex services were allegedly sold – in cooperation with Zohar. 

The network is suspected of operating in a number of cities in Colombia, including the capital Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta.