According to Insight Crime, a famous modeling agency in Venezuela has been accused of sex trafficking. Law enforcement raided the modeling agency Sambal and arrested four employees, including director Jenny Rosales on human sex trafficking charges.
Rosales was detained at Caracas’ Maiquetia international airport, where she planned to travel to the Dominican Republic. According to women’s rights non-governmental organization Tinta Violeta, Rosales was alleged to have taken several of the agency’s models to Fabio Enrique González Isaza, alias “Negro Fabio,” a human trafficking gang boss in Bolivar. Centro Sambil, who owns the modeling agency, denied involvement with illegal activities.
Human sex trafficking has come to the attention of many law enforcement nationwide; in Venezuela, sex trafficking has been on the rise, especially those involving modeling agencies.
One challenge that law enforcement has is their inability to link some modeling agencies to criminal activities because of the nature of the modeling work; very often, young models are sent abroad to showcase the latest fashion to entice consumers into buying their product.
In September 2019, Belankazar modeling agency posted photos of minors in swimsuits and cocktails dresses on YouTube, Instagram, and Russian social media site VKontakte. This raised concerns as there were allegations that customers paid for the photos, although the children models were identified as “Mini Models.”
The owners of Belankazar said their actions were not illegal, “In Latin American culture, especially Venezuela, it is more than accepted and normal that girls begin their training as models from an early age.” Despite their justification, three staff were “arrested on charges of child exploitation, but the agency remains active, and the implicated executives remain prominently listed on its website,” according to Insight Crime.
In 2018, there were accusations that Miss Venezuela beauty competition had been involved in orchestrating a prostitution ring where young models had some involvement with wealthy Venezuelan businessmen. Osmel Souza, the founder of Miss Venezuela and director, denied the allegations but he left his position after 40 years when former Venezuela beauty queens accused him of forcing them into “sexual work for paying customers.” Souza was never charged.