Peruvian police make arrests in what authorities call a sex tourism case involving children
American man among those taken into custody in Lima
An American has been arrested in Peru on allegations that he “facilitated sex tourism and exploitation of children” for several years in the South American country.
Joshua David Brown, 64, was arrested last weekend as a result of a joint Peruvian and U.S. operation targeting a ring that allegedly offered online sex acts with underage girls in Peru for thousands of dollars.
The operation resulted in the arrests of six people, including Brown and five Peruvian nationals allegedly involved in sex trafficking. The Peruvians face charges of human trafficking of minors, pimping and pandering, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Authorities rescued 36 alleged victims, including 11 minors. None were found at Brown’s residence. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of the minors was only 4 years old and she was being offered online for $7,000 USD.
“The American police informed us that American citizens were traveling to Peru seeking to have sex with underage boys and girls. That’s what prompted our investigation,” said Gen. Oscar Gonzales with the Peruvian National Police.
A video of the raid provided to CNN by police shows Brown was still in bed when officers stormed into his bedroom to arrest him. Police targeted Brown’s home in Lima, the Peruvian capital, as well as eight other houses where the other five suspects were detained.
Police say they executed nine search warrants that yielded large amounts of child pornography. Officers seized one gun and an unspecified amount of drugs, which were found at different locations. Authorities say Brown ran a sex shop and had been living in Peru for 14 years.
Brown told authorities he’s innocent.
“I know exactly what’s happening. A person whom I trusted has been trying for weeks to get me in trouble (inaudible)… but I have nothing to do with this,” Brown is heard saying in Spanish in the video provided by authorities.
CNN has been unable to reach Brown’s attorney in Peru.
Police say Brown told them he’s not a trafficker, although he sometimes acted as matchmaker for American friends visiting from the United States.
“Brown insists that he was not making money doing this. He says that he has some American friends who would visit. He would introduce them to some Peruvian friends, Peruvian girls, little friends, and that in more than one occasion his American friends, who were in a better financial situation, would have a romantic relationship with those little friends and would marry them and go live with them in the United States,” Gonzales told CNN.
The rescued minors are now in the custody of authorities, according to María del Carmen Santiago, head of the Peruvian Women’s Ministry.
“They were very scared at first about what was happening. Some of them knew and others didn’t know what was happening because they didn’t know why they were there. They were told they were invited to a party. That’s what they were told,” Santiago said.
The crime of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison in Peru.
Brown may also face charges in the United States under the Protect Act, a law that seeks to protect children from sexual predators, allowing authorities to charge perpetrators, whether the crime is committed in U.S. territory or abroad.