Finance Colombia » Medellín’s new mayor cracks down on vice and sex tourism amid local fury

After being elected to a second, non-consecutive term as mayor, defeating the president’s unpopular cousin by 71%, Federico “Fico” Gutierrez is taking swift steps to reduce vice and the sex tourism that soared during the administration. previous municipality.

While prostitution without a broker is legal in otherwise socially conservative Colombia, Medellín in particular has seen an increase in sex tourism, angering many locals. On the other hand, engaging in sexual activity with a minor is a serious crime in Colombia.

On Monday, Mayor Gutierrez used his emergency powers to outlaw prostitution, effective immediately in Medellín’s El Poblado sector, including the popular tourist-friendly Parque Lleras and Provenza neighborhoods. The emergency measures are effective for six months. The mayor also restricted bars, restaurants and nightclubs to 1am.

The move follows a minors curfew measure, still in effect, that the mayor approved in late January in some commercial areas of the city where nightlife is a major component.

“We need to reclaim these spaces that crime has taken over, ‘de-cluttering’ these areas of the city and putting women and especially our girls, boys and teenagers at risk. The work of our mayor will continue there, every day, 24 hours a day and with all our support,” said Gutiérrez, who explained that this sex traffic is controlled by Terrace, Raya, AND Robledo mobsters active in Medellín.

Dominick Divencenzo is facing charges of sexual exploitation of minors.Dominick Divencenzo is facing charges of sexual exploitation of minors.

Dominick Divencenzo is facing charges of sexual exploitation of minors.

“Here we need everyone’s commitment, understanding that this is a situation that has fallen to the bottom. We did not come here to hide the problems. We managed to get to know them. There is a serious, difficult situation. I have said it since the first day in office. Some measures have been taken and these are extraordinary ones,” said Gutierrez.

Early last month, two American citizens were arrested in Medellin in coordinated operations between Colombian police and the US Department of Homeland Security, both for sexual exploitation of minors. Then, last week, thanks to a tip from a concerned neighbor, 36-year-old Timothy Alan Livingston was arrested when he was caught at a luxury guesthouse with two girls, aged 12 and 13.

36-year-old Timothy Alan Livingston was arrested when he was caught at a luxury hostel with two girls, aged 12 and 13.36-year-old Timothy Alan Livingston was arrested when he was caught at a luxury hostel with two girls, aged 12 and 13.

36-year-old Timothy Alan Livingston was arrested when he was caught at a luxury hostel with two girls, aged 12 and 13.

Sources explain to Finance Colombia that Livingston was released after the initial detention because there was not enough evidence to immediately charge him with a crime (Habeas Corpus), in other words, they were unable to immediately prove that he had committed sexual acts with children, who were taken into custody after the incident by child protection authorities. Although still under criminal investigation, Livingston immediately fled to Florida, although Colombia has an extradition treaty with the United States and the United States has demonstrated a willingness to extradite American citizens to Colombia to face justice.

Colombian police temporarily closed the luxury guesthouse, called “Gotham” and located in Medellín’s posh Poblado area in the Parque Lleras neighborhood. The closure lasts for 10 days pending additional legal sanctions. The mayor has called for “Extinción de Dominio” (similar to asset forfeiture in the United States), which is when the government seizes property used or paid for by criminal activity.

The Gotham is not a hotel, but a five-unit guest residence marketed through Airbnb. When contacted by Finance Colombia, the management company that currently owns the building shared this statement (translated by Finance Colombia):

We categorically reject any form of sexual exploitation of boys, girls and teenagers. We do this not only as responsible actors of tourism in the city of Medellín, but also in our condition as fathers, mothers, daughters and sons. Exploitation of minors is abnormal and since the beginning of our company we have been committed to fight and prevent it. Our team consists of 17 women, property managers, who have worked to protect the rights of women, children and adolescents from Colombia.

In recent years we have met with the authorities on countless occasions, including the National Police and the Medellín Mayor’s Office, to address strategies to prevent trafficking, sexual violence, drug trafficking and other phenomena that affect the safety of visitors and citizens and their integrity. children. We have actively participated in the Inter-Sectoral Table and Inter-Institutional Prostitution of the Office of the Mayor of Medellín to contribute to the fight against the exploitation of minors in accommodation and shelter facilities.

All bookings at this holiday home are made through Airbnb. On this platform We require users whose identity has been previously verified to expressly accept our policies against sex tourism, child exploitation and drug consumption before booking the property. In addition to the above, as hotel operators, we have implemented even stronger policies and practices to ensure safety in tourist accommodation. In all public areas of the building we have installed security cameras, we keep strict guest records, we have implemented security procedures at the reception and we even periodically and in a documented way train all our staff against the exploitation of children.

We are committed to implementing stronger than usual security measures at properties that are booked through digital platforms. Despite our best efforts, a stranger, identified by authorities as Timothy Alan Livingston, bypassed and breached our security schemes.

On the night of March 27, 2024, Mr. Livingston attempted to enter with two companions carrying adult identification. However, the security guard stopped them from entering, suspecting that they might be minors. Building security cameras show Livingston allegedly returned to the building and trespassed in the early morning hours of March 28, when the night watchman’s shift had already ended.

Thanks to the denunciation of a neighbor, the National Police was notified of the situation and since then our entire team has actively cooperated with the following investigation. We are currently cooperating and will continue to actively cooperate with the authorities, including the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office, to facilitate and expedite their investigations with a view to prosecuting those responsible for this wrongful event.

We join the calls for justice and will continue to work closely with domestic and foreign authorities to secure all information that enables the identification, arrest and prosecution of those responsible. As responsible actors of tourism, we are also affected by this case that damages many hotel properties and forces us not to neglect security for a minute.

Our country has deep social problems. Only between January and August 2023, according to the data of the General Prosecutor’s Office, 8295 sexual crimes against minors were registered. Our commitment is to promote quality tourism and that is why we have actively participated with the authorities, and with industry associations such as Fenalco and Cotelco, for many years to fight the scourge of child exploitation. We are horrified by the events that have taken place and in the light of this phenomenon, since we are also mothers and fathers with small children. We are concerned citizens who want justice to be done and a sustainable long-term tourism strategy implemented in the city of Medellín for the good of society and without crime or immorality.

We are with all Medellin and Colombian [citizens] during this painful process.

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