Cancun, Mexico (CNN)It was an unusual scene, especially for two Mexican cities known more for beaches and tourism.
"We want justice!" shouted dozens of people gathered at dawn outside a state courthouse in the beach resort of Cancun on Thursday last week. The crowd, mostly activists, students and human rights attorneys, was pleasantly surprised when their numbers increased by the arrival of members of a bikers' club.
Several hours later, the same protesters showed up at another state courthouse in the nearby beach resort of Playa del Carmen, chanting the same message and adding another one: "No more impunity!"
In both cases, judges would hear evidence about the state's biggest human trafficking raid in years, involving women from as far as Argentina and Germany who were allegedly tricked into working as prostitutes.
An alleged scheme to bring women into Mexico
On the night of July 30, officers under the command of the Quintana Roo's State's Attorney's Office raided two buildings in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. They ultimately detained 13 people, twelve of whom were later arraigned on charges of human trafficking, among others.
According to Quintana Roo state Attorney General Óscar Montes de Oca, the suspects had held dozens of women in captivity, many from foreign countries.
"They advertised as a spa business; but in reality, there were sexual acts happening in those two places where women were being exploited," Montes de Oca told CNN in an interview. Though they advertised separately, the two locations are believed to have been run by the same people, the state's attorney's office said.