MADRID, Spain — An Israeli wanted by Colombia for sex trafficking, including of minors, has been arrested in Portugal, Spanish police, which took part in the operation, said Thursday.
Police arrested Assi Ben-Mosh, 45, near Lisbon on Wednesday while in possession of fake Israeli identity documents, Spain’s Guardia Civil police force said in a statement.
He is suspected of having operated a “bunker-like” hotel in Taganga, a Colombian fishing village that has become popular with backpackers, where young women and underaged girls were sexually exploited, the statement added.
Colombian authorities deported Ben-Mosh — whom local media called “the Devil of Taganga” — in 2017 because he was deemed to be a threat to public order.
But they recently issued an international arrest warrant for Ben-Mosh via Interpol for drug trafficking, money laundering and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
Spanish police suspect Ben-Mosh hid for a while on the Spanish holiday island of Ibiza, and then Barcelona before he was arrested in Portugal earlier this week.
In December, Colombian police announced an operation against the sexual exploitation Ben-Mosh is suspected of setting. Three Israelis and two Colombians were detained in the sting.
Tourism to Colombia has increased since the government in 2016 signed a peace agreement with leftist rebels, but many foreigners come to the country seeking easy access to drugs and prostitution. Sexual exploitation is a major problem.