ARLINGTON, Va., June 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday officers from the Dominican Republic National Police led a raid that resulted in the rescue of 24 children who were being sold for commercial sexual exploitation. The youngest victim rescued is believed to be seven years old. In addition, five perpetrators were arrested for trafficking related offenses. The lead officer on the raid, Frank F. Duran Mejia, conducted the operation acting on a tip from investigators at International Justice Mission, a Washington, DC-based human rights organization that investigates cases of sex trafficking and exploitation, and rescues victims of oppression around the world. "The work in this case by the Dominican Republic National Police and Deputy Attorney General Eliza Sanchez was exemplary," said Sharon Cohn, vice president of interventions for IJM. "They acted swiftly on behalf of these children to rescue them from a horrendous situation. This is going to send a strong message to people in the Dominican Republic who are exploiting children." The Dominican Republic was listed on the Tier 2 watch list in the U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report released yesterday. This categorization means the country is under special scrutiny with regard to its efforts to stop trafficking, and is in danger of being dropped to Tier 3, which could result in U.S. government sanctions. Investigators in yesterday's case reported that the perpetrators had been preying on orphaned children on the beach and other vulnerable children, offering them to tourists for sex. In undercover investigations one of the perpetrators repeatedly bragged about his ability to provide very young children to customers for the purpose of rape and sexual exploitation. Alba Beard Marcos is the prosecutor who will prepare the case for trial. The perpetrators are being held in a Santo Domingo jail awaiting trial. About International Justice Mission International Justice Mission is a human rights organization that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression. A multi- national team of law enforcement professionals and a highly qualified legal staff conduct criminal investigations and collect evidence to rescue victims and bring perpetrators to justice. The work of IJM has been featured on Dateline NBC, in Forbes, New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets. IJM was founded by Gary Haugen who was the Officer in Charge of the U.N. investigation into the Rwanda genocide.
SOURCE International Justice Mission