Colombia issues warrant for Israeli kingpin after arrest of sex ring suspects

Colombia issues warrant for Israeli kingpin after arrest of sex ring suspects

Assi Ben-Mosh suspected of involvement with child trafficking ring, where over 250 girls aged 14-17 were forced to have sex with locals and tourists

By TOI STAFF

5 Aug 2018, 10:34 pm 0

Screen capture from video showing alleged crime lord Assi Ben-Mosh, right, on a flight after being expelled from Columbia. (Screen capture: YouTube)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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