April 30 (UPI) — Nearly 350 potential sex-trafficking and forced labor victims were rescued in an Interpol operation, the international police agency announced Monday.
A statement issued at Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, said the operation was centered in Central and South America and in the Caribbean, with its operations center in Barbados. Men and women, including minors, were found working in nightclubs, farms, mines and markets in a weeklong action called Operation Libertad.
Twenty-two people were arrested, and computer equipment, mobile phones and cash were seized.
The statement mentioned women in Guyana, working as prostitutes near a gold mine, were unable to escape.
“Isolated locations make it difficult for officers to avoid detection when traveling to these camps. By the time intelligence is acted upon, perpetrators have had the opportunity to act and move the victims,” said Diana O’Brien, assistant director of public prosecutions of Guyana’s Ministry of Public Security.
The 2 1/2-half year investigation was funded by the Canadian government, which provided special training to investigators and immigration officers. It is one of several projects of the Interpol Global Task Force on Human Trafficking. Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Curacao, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and Venezuela participated in the police operation.