SOSUA, Dominican Republic – Twenty-nine sex trafficking victims were rescued in Sosua, Dominican Republic, March 11 following an international undercover law enforcement investigation.
The U.S. Embassy’s Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Dominican National Police, the Dominican Republic’s Attorney General’s Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Person’s Unit and the Puerto Plata Prosecutor’s Office conducted the investigation leading up to the rescue.
Twenty of the 29 victims are Dominican minors between the ages of 14 and 17. The remaining nine sex trafficking victims are adults. All of the victims are female.
The rescued victims, who are minors, are in the care of the Dominican Republic’s Child Protective Services Agency.
As part of the investigation, seven Dominican nationals were arrested, two females and five males. They’re in local custody where they have been given one year preventative incarceration while their cases are adjudicated. It’s alleged that the traffickers knowingly transported the victims to what they believed was a “sex party”. They also knowingly arranged for the victims to perform sexual services for adults attending the fake party.
Those arrested include: Rubén Darío Sosa, Luis Manuel Martínez Castillo, Franklin Sánchez García, Rolfi Ismael Ventura, Manuel Emilio Martínez, Idalia Luciano Ferrera and Aniberca Castro Peña.
The Puerto Plata Prosecutor’s Office is prosecuting the Dominican nationals. If convicted, the defendants face up to 15 years imprisonment.
Operation Underground Railroad and International Justice Mission, both U.S. nonprofit organizations dedicated to eradicating the sexual exploitation of children, assisted with the investigation.
“We commend the government of the Dominican Republic for their commitment to eradicating the sexual exploitation of human beings and appreciate their cooperation in this case,” said U.S. Ambassador James W. Brewster. “It’s unconscionable that people, including children, are being sold for sex in the 21st century. The U.S. government will continue working with our partners both domestically and abroad to bring this evil practice to an end.”