Brazilian federal police agents took part this Wednesday, October 18, in a three-state operation to break an international network specialized in exporting transvestites from Brazil to Italy and Spain.
Called Operation Caraxué – caraxué is a little-known term that means pimp in Portuguese – the police action had already made 10 arrests in the early afternoon. The Brazilian authorities had been monitoring the gang’s activities for the last three months.
The operation used some 50 federal police agents in Brazil and counted on the help of the Spanish and Italian authorities. The transvestites were being recruited mostly in two areas: Triângulo Mineiro, in the state of Minas Gerais and the Alto Paranaíba region, in Santa Catarina state.
Two of the recruiters were found in São Paulo, but apparently there are many of them spread throughout several Brazilian states. The recruiting was also done through the Internet.
Marinho da Silva Rezende Júnior, the Uberlândia’s (Minas Gerais) Federal Police chief, who is in charge of the case, told reporters that his men had already arrested 10 people linked to the human trafficking gang.
The transvestites were taken to Milan and Madrid to work as prostitutes. This year alone the group had already taken about 40 people to Europe.
According to Raul Alexandre Marques de Souza, another federal police chief, the transvestites had to disburse, before leaving Brazil, about 10,000 euros (US$ 12,500) to pay for the plane ticket and as an advance for three months of housing and food in Europe.
When in Spain or Italy they had to deal with other charges, among them a fee to guarantee a spot to do their trick. Telephone calls recorded with court authorization showed that the transvestites when in Europe were forced to stay in whorehouses till they paid all they owed to the people who took them to Europe.
These debts were generally much bigger than the original 10,000 euros agreed upon before leaving Brazil.
Most of those arrested on Wednesday were transvestites themselves. The police released their names: Luciano Garcia, nicknamed "Luciana", Elvis Osório de Araújo ( "Lorraine"), Vilmar Rodrigues Cardoso ("Pamela"), Sérgio Martins, "Suelen", and Patrick Alexandre de Oliveira, "Sabrina".
Aurora Osório de Araújo, mother of Elvis, Maria José Matos and Marcelo Carrijo were also detained by the authorities. They have all been preventively arrested for five days.
Those arrested will be charged with overseas human trafficking, pimping and gang formation. They might get from 3 to 8 years of jail time.
According to the police, the head of the organization is a transvestite who lives in Uberlândia and was identified only as Loraine.
An official notice from the Federal Police says that "Loraine has already lived in Italy, where he owns a house that shelters people working as prostitutes in the city of Milan. The gang also recruited transvestites to be prostitutes in Spain."
The presence of Brazilian transvestites in Milan has been an old problem for the Italian authorities who have fought back deporting scores of Brazilians and trying to prevent their entry in the country in the first place.
The just-busted ring offered what they called "clean routes" to get into Europe. According to the Brazilian police, these less risky routes use stop-overs in Zurich and Lugano (Switzerland), Paris (France) and Amsterdam (Holland). From there the transvestites were transported by land to Milan or Madrid.
An Uberlândia travel agency was also part of the scheme. Police found out that they were selling tickets in extremely favorable terms, noting that the heads of the group and the owner of the company had a very close relationship.