Latin America and the Caribbean

Reuters World Report
11 October 1996

Colombia Cracks Down on Trafficking in Human Organs

BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombian President Ernesto Samper ordered the creation of a new police unit on Friday to crack down on child kidnappers and traffickers in human bodyparts.

Samper did not elaborate on the trafficking in bodyparts, a grisly subject that has been the subject of speculative reports in Latin America, but he said a crack new police unit called "Humanitas" would be formed to help prevent it.

"It's been a while now since new forms of cartels appeared in Colombia -- human cartels," Samper said in a speech at the presidential palace.

"We're talking about delinquents who traffic in human life," he said."They are cartels that kidnap children, cartels that buy and sell organs, cartels that use indigents and then make them disappear in monstrous social cleansing operations."

Colombia, the home of ruthless drug cartels, has the highest rate of kidnapping in the world.

Police and right-wing gunmen have been accused of seeking to clear Colombian cities of "undesirables" by removing homeless people off the streets and making them disappear.

Street children have been known to take refuge in Bogota's rat-infested sewer system at night to avoid becoming victims of the dreaded "social cleansing" operations.


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