An Interpol-coordinated operation to bust an international human trafficking ring in 13 Caribbean countries, as well as Central and South America resulted in 350 women being rescued last month.
According to a statement from Interpol, more than 500 police officers in 14 countries in the Caribbean and Venezuela freed men, women and children from sexual exploitation and forced labor in gold mines, nightclubs, factories, open-air markets and farms.
The exercise dubbed “Operation Libertad” was conducted under the Interpol Project to Combat Human Trafficking in the Caribbean between April 3 and 9.
The participating countries were: Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and Venezuela.
In Guyana, young women were found working as prostitutes next to extremely remote gold mines, from which they could not escape.
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines “Asian” employees who were found working at a factory were stripped of their passports and had to rely completely on their handlers for housing, transport, food and the most basic necessities.
According to Interpol, the traffickers took advantage of the victims who were in search of a better life overseas.
“What traffickers don’t advertise are the working conditions their victims will be subject to once their final destination is reached. During this operation, we identified women being forced to work out of spaces no bigger than coffins, for example,” said Cem Kloc, coordinator of Interpol’s Trafficking in Human Being Unit.