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Rescue Operation Amid COVID-19: Six Rescued. Five Arrested.

A minor and five adult women are now free from sexual exploitation after a successful rescue operation on May 23rd. As the sun rose for a new day in lockdown on the Caribbean island, local officials from the Specialized Forces of Touristic Security (CESTUR), National Police, and the Prosecutor’s office, assisted by IJM, arrested five suspects including three Americans Citizens, a Haitian National and a Dominican.

IJM first heard about the case from a local partner that had contacted local authorities in their region but had yet to receive support. IJM alerted national authorities of the complaint, and as the investigation took place, provided critical training and support for law enforcement officials who led the rescue.

The accused were arrested on the property of one of the American suspects, who works in the country as a baseball coach.

Upon arrival to the coach’s home, local authorities found the survivors unclothed and in a state of stress. Prosecutors collected cellphones, other electronic devices, documents and drugs, and arrested the five suspects who will be investigated for the crimes of sex trafficking and production of pornographic materials. IJM will continue supporting the prosecutor’s office in this case to ensure justice is served.

After the rescue, the minor, who is 14 years old, was transferred to a safe home run by the Dominican Child Welfare Agency (CONANI). IJM has partnered with CONANI for the past years to improve the quality of support for survivors of sex trafficking to ensure they receive adequate care to heal and thrive.

IJM applauds the commitment of Dominican authorities, who even amid the Covid-19 quarantine, continue to bring justice for the most vulnerable by holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring victims are protected.

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