MANILA, Philippines — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents in Manila assisted the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the non-governmental organization International Justice Mission (IJM) in the Jan. 14 rescue of 21 female sex workers and the arrest of two Filipino nationals for violations of Philippian law. Eleven of the victims rescued were minors.
On Jan. 13, HSI Manila assisted the PNP in a human trafficking rescue operation including the execution of two search and arrest warrants on two commercial sex establishments – Aby Lynn and Lovely Paradise – in Balibago, Angeles City. These establishments provided children for sexual acts to foreign customers, including customers from the United States.
HSI Manila Deputy Attaché Eric McLoughlin said, "Sex trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes HSI investigates. These victims are taken advantage of and exploited on a daily basis. HSI will continue to aggressively stand alongside our international partners at the PNP and IJM in this collaborative effort to identify, arrest and prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of others and at the same time rescue those who are being exploited."
PNP Regional Anti Human Trafficking Task Force Region 3 (RATT3) Commander Palaleo Addag said, "Angeles City, Pampanga, is a hot-bed for trafficking young women and children. Each year foreigners travel by the thousands to Angeles with the sole intention of sexually exploiting young women and children. HSI is a strategic partner for the PNP in combating such exploitation as many establishments refuse to allow nationals to enter their premise, making them nearly impossible to investigate. This investigation and the subsequent rescue of the exploited victims would not have been possible without the assistance of HSI."
Arrested were Christine Tanola Canolo, 31, and Marilon Palconit Oraiso, 30, both of Angeles City. They were both charged with Philippine Republic Act 9208 Trafficking in Persons and 7610 Child abuse and exploitation. They were presented to the Philippine Department of Justice (PDOJ) and remanded by PDOJ for violations of Philippine Republic Act 9208 and 7610 child abuse and exploitation. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Christine Canolo and Marilon Orasio are alleged to be the "mamasans" of each commercial establishment, facilitating the sale of minors to foreigners, including Americans, for the purposes of sexual acts. HSI played a dual role in this investigation primarily to identify threats to the United States by attempting to determine potential involvement of transnational organized criminal elements or other nefarious actors. HSI's secondary role was acting as a force multiplier to foreign counterparts including lending subject matter expertise, organizational support by bringing together multiple entities including non-governmental organizations, after-care services, foreign and U.S. law enforcement as well as logistics, operational planning and surveillance.
Of the total 21 victims rescued, 11 are minors aged 15 to 17 years old. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is providing services to the victims.
HSI's Office of International Affairs (OIA) is responsible for enhancing national security by conducting and coordinating international investigations. With agents in 67 offices in 48 countries around the world, OIA represents ICE's broadest footprint beyond our borders. HSI attaché offices work with foreign counterparts to identify and combat transnational criminal organizations before they threaten the United States.