Colombia has issued an international arrest warrant for an Israeli, suspected of involvement in a child sex trafficking ring, according to local media.
Suspected crime kingpin Assi Ben-Mosh was deported from Colombia to Israel in November for allegedly running a drug and sex crime ring in the fishing village of Taganga. However, authorities in Bogota suspect he was involved remotely in a suspected sex trafficking ring that they broke up in raids last week, Colombian media reports said.
Police in Colombia arrested 18 people in a raid on Hotel Benjamin hostel in Cartagena. The suspects are accused of running a sex ring, recruiting young girls from Colombia and Venezuela and forcing them to work as sex slaves. Reuters reported that more than 250 girls between 14- and 17-years-old were forced to have sex with locals and tourists.
Authorities believe there is a link between the hostel in Cartagena and Ben-Mosh’s hostel of the same name in Taganga. The warrant for Ben-Mosh was issued on Monday.
President-elect Ivan Duque tweeted that those behind the trafficking ring should receive the highest-possible punishment, and he vowed he would not allow the country “to become a destination for sex tourism.”
It was not clear how Ben-Mosh was connected to those arrested, nor was it clear how he left Israel following his deportation, but El Tiempo newspaper said he was last seen in Barcelona, Spain.
The Israeli had allegedly been running a resort hotel near the northern Colombian town of Santa Marta, where he had set up a drug and sex crime ring. The Hotel Benjamin, in Taganga, was an attraction for many Israelis on their post-army travels, but was unpopular with local residents due to the activities associated with it. His operations also extended into Ecuador, Brazil and Mexico, local media reported.
Ben-Mosh and his partners were suspected of drug dealing, forcing minors into prostitution, and tax evasion, Hebrew media reported when the expulsion order against him was issued. Ben-Mosh had tried unsuccessfully to prevent his deportation from Columbia, including by applying to become a resident.
He was banned from returning to Columbia for 10 years, local media said at the time.