A Colombian Instagram model is at the centre of a child sex trafficking scandal.
Liliana del Carmen Campos Puello, nicknamed ‘La Madame’, is being accused of recruiting underage, vulnerable girls for an international sex trafficking ring.
Prosecutors say the 48-year-old brought in as many as 400 girls, many from poor backgrounds, to service celebrities, politicians and other glamorous clients.
Pictures posted online show Campos Puello posing with cash:
The child prostitutes were showcased in catalogues, forced to attend sex parties in luxury yachts and hotels, and had to allegedly endure tattoo brandings from their owners, according to the New York Post.
Campos Puello was arrested in July 2018, along with 17 others accused of running the prostitution ring, in a major police sting known as ‘Operation Vesta’.
Campos Puella is being held in jail while the trial is ongoing. She told local news reporters: ‘Never, never have there been minors involved,’ claiming all girls were over the age of 18.
Prostitution in the South American state is legal, but Campos Puello allegedly coerced poor women into the field.
The model allegedly helped the women with passports and expenses under the guise that they were being eyed for modelling opportunities.
It would only be when the girls arrived in Cartagena that they’d be stripped of their documents and subsequently forced into prostitution. Before each event, Campos Puello would reportedly select the best-suited girl from her list of ‘workers’ before introducing them to the clients.
At least 250 minors are said to have been lured to Cartagena in the space of a year, making it the city’s largest sexual exploitation case.
Campos Puello also has a previous criminal record: in 2002, she was convicted of federal heroin trafficking.
The trial is still ongoing.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child seeking advice and support call Childline for free on 0800 1111.
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.