A child prostitution ring where more than 250 underage girls were branded with tattoos by their 'owners' has been broken up after dramatic raids.
Police arrested 18 people after the girls were lured into coming the Colombian resort of Cartagena under the pretence of working as models there.
Among those detained was the alleged 'Madame' of the operation - Liliana del Carmen Campos Puello - and several unnamed Israelis who are believed to be the network's ringleaders.
They allegedly raped and tattooed all their victims, who were aged between 14 and 17.
Campos Puello was allegedly responsible for finding the girls from the poor neighbourhoods in Colombia and Venezuela.
She allegedly helped them with passports and sent them money for expenses.
But when the girls arrived in Cartagena, they were stripped of their documents and belongings and forced into prostitution.
They were allegedly showcased in catalogues and forced to attend sex parties on luxury yachts and hotels.
Campos Puello hired the girls and introduced them to the clients.
Before each event, she would allegedly always select the best-suited girls from their list.
At least 250 minors were reportedly lured to Cartagena in one year, in what is being called the city's largest sexual exploitation case.
The Attorney General's Office said Campos Puello used her contacts to organise events they girls were forced to go to.
She also has a record for heroin trafficking as well as for entering the United States illegally.
'The Madame has a criminal record for heroin trafficking and illegal entrance into the United States.
'Additionally, she was in charge of operating a prostitution service in the beach area, as well as using international contacts to organise events where the girls were forced to perform.'
The investigation continues.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.