“The girls told me not to leave them alone, to get them all out of there,” recalled police patrol officer Kelly José Rodríguez Elis, when one of the young women asked for her help to leave the neighborhood. Santa Fe in central Bogotá. In this place She and 11 other young women were subjected to sexual abuse, harassment, threats and even forced to have abortions if they became pregnant.
However, when the deceived young women accept, they are taken to residences or motels, where they are given fake IDs to support their coming of age and are thus deceived. They were encouraged to engage in sexual labor in exchange for food and shelter.
Rodríguez, a patrol officer who has been with the institution for 11 years. Bogotá Metropolitan Police Sijín’s Sex Crimes groupHe told EL TIEMPO that he infiltrated the streets of the Santa Fe neighborhood in January 2022. dismantling a network that sexually exploited minors.
“I dressed like the women of the region to remain inconspicuous and observe the surroundings.”This allowed me to slowly identify the minors who were being exploited,” the patrol officer said.
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During surveillance, Kelly spent entire days that turned into endless nights consuming food in the cold near the underworld. Bogotathey expose themselves to the dangers of the remote corners of these places.
In fact, the patrol boat reported that there were persons involved. micro traffic They threatened him, demanding that he leave the neighborhood.
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“Threats were coming to my cell phone regularly, because this wasn’t the first operation I’d done,” Rodriguez says of the days when unknown voices warned him that they would attack his family if he didn’t leave the area.
In the midst of this intimidation, he thought about his 6-year-old daughter and his long work days. They had to leave him for days without kissing him goodnight or saying goodbye and sending him off to school.
According to uniformed police, the minors were forced to stay on the outskirts of the city. seven residences and motels where the network has rooms to serve customers.
To hide their prostitution “If someone had come up to them and asked them that question, they would have had to say that they were red wine dealers and would have brought out carts full of jugs of this drink.“said the patrol boat about this activity, which was captured on security cameras. The incident took place a few blocks from the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation and less than a kilometer from the Paloquemao courts.
After nine months undercover, through a coordinated effort Attorney GeneralIn August 2022 and based on information provided by him. He managed to rescue twelve children and identify and capture fifteen members of the gang, including Colombians and Venezuelans.
Those involved in the incident were brought before a Republican judge on charges of pimping, soliciting commercial sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18, and encouraging minors to engage in prostitution.
This operation led to a reward for patrol boat Rodríguez. Green Heart Award ‘ categoryfighting crime and maintaining public orderHe was chosen as the best police officer of the year among 453 candidates.
In this ceremony organized by the Foundation Green Heart FoundationDedicated to improving the quality of life for police officers’ families, this event paid tribute to the 161 members of this Force who died in their duties last year, leaving behind 73 widows and 129 orphans.
But for Rodríguez Elis, the real reward was: The change in the lives of the victims.
Of the twelve rescued girls, one in particular touched his heart. Uniformed police managed to find the family of this young Venezuelan woman and make it easier to reunite with them. Today the youngest is studying in his own country and enjoying a life full of love.
After receiving the award for Colombia’s best police officer, Patrol Officer Rodríguez said: “This award was given to the victims“, he said, adding that their duties as police officers were to “build a healthy childhood for the future of the country.” That’s why he wants to continue working for the women of this country.
Juan Diego Torres
School of Multimedia Journalism EL TIEMPO
Gender violence is often difficult to recognize. If you or a woman around you is a victim of psychological, physical, economic or sexual violence, contact the national helpline number 155.