BOGOTA: Almost 50 women trafficked through underground tunnels to work as nightclub "sex slaves" were rescued from the tourism hotspot Cartagena, Colombian prosecutors said.
The victims -- 26 Colombians and 23 Venezuelans -- were allegedly forced into working as prostitutes in nightclub basements connected by a series of tunnels.
They were tricked with false promises of work before being held captive in "precarious conditions," Attorney General Mario Gomez said in a press conference.
The victims were relieved of their passports and identity cards by a network of pimps engaged in the "sexual exploitation of women.
" A series of raids linked to the Operation Vesta launched several weeks ago resulted in 18 arrests last month.
Gomez said police were hot on the heels of the pimps' headquarters and said they would be tried for "trafficking people for sexual slavery.
" Gomez said the "geographical corridors close to the Caribbean coast," including Cartagena, provided the "majority of sexual tourism" in Colombia.
The US State Department has described Colombia as a "source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex and labor trafficking."