Amigo Joven, another NGO, says it knows of at least one confirmed case in which the mother of the girl was complicit.
“Mothers have said that they were displaced from the comunas of the city because criminal groups tried to auction off their daughters,” said Rodrigo Ardila, who heads the personeria office in Medellín.
A steady supply of customers find the auctions through referrals from other sex trafficking networks in Medellín, where prostitution is legal over the age of 18.
After establishing trust, a customer may be granted access to a virgin auction, but it still costs a hefty fee. S., Mexico, or Japan often join the auctions as part of a sex tourism package.
“She told me she had a boyfriend and she asked me if I did, too. A group of Escobar’s cronies called Los Señuelos, meaning bait, were responsible for luring the young women to parties and then ensuring they did not cause trouble for the drug traffickers later.
After one party, the police found the bodies of 24 young women, all under 19 years old, according to Colombia’s Semana Magazine.
Others, like Maria’s friend, help the combos recruit in exchange for a commission.
Victims’ fear and vulnerability keeps these networks hidden.
Maria sobbed while an older woman applied her makeup and complained that Maria was a crybaby.
Her photos would be displayed for bidders on a temporary pin-protected website that allowed users to browse girls as young as 10 and offer a price.
Two men arrived, one of whom Maria assumed was her friend’s boyfriend.