Montevideo. (Shutterstock)

The dismantling of a network of sexual exploitation of young adolescents, some of them minors, shakes Uruguayan society. The country’s authorities have so far charged 21 people. Businessmen, judges, architects, teachers have been involved in this plot in which, thanks to their economic and social position, they offered teenagers money, drugs, yacht trips in exchange for sex.

The first case was known in 2019, after a complaint of sexual abuse. Uruguayan justice began to investigate, to find clues. It was just the tip of the iceberg. Thus, photos and text messages were found in which men offered « gifts » in exchange for sexual relations.

Among those involved is the Argentine citizen Ricardo Cirio Oreste, 63, who was the principal of a private school in Punta del Este and who had a criminal record. The man was captured in a Buquebús bound for Uruguay, after violating the quarantine in Argentina.

In the framework of an investigation carried out by Organized Crime and Interpol officials, baptized “Operation Ocean”, the sex crimes prosecutor, Darviña Viera, reported the capture of Cirio Oreste. In addition, the authorities are looking for another Argentine citizen, a Uruguayan and a Brazilian, who would also be part of the international network of sexual exploitation.

Cirio Oreste was charged with the crime of « retribution or promise of retribution to minors for executing sexual or erotic acts of any kind ». The man was a principal at the prestigious St. Clare’s College. However, after the capture, the educational institution issued a statement clarifying that the Argentine no longer has any link with them. Until 2016 he was the president of the foundation of the school, according to Uruguayan media.

Ricardo Cirio Orestes

There are six young women who dared to report the case. The first was done for sexual abuse against a Paraguayan businessman, and thanks to this case the authorities found the clues of the exploitation network.

Justice is also investigating whether the death of an 18-year-old girl, who was originally classified as suicide, is related to the case. Text messages were found on the teenager’s cell phone in which men offered her money and gifts in exchange for sex.

Most victims were searched on dating apps like Tinder or Badoo, and on social media or sex work promotion sites. Some of the young women made it clear in the messages that they were minors and that they were going to school.

The men took advantage of the socio-economic situation, vulnerability, of the young women and offered them trips on luxurious yachts, clothes, perfumes, party invitations and money.

Punta del Este. (Shutterstock)

Among the persons charged are: Nicolás Ortiz (teacher, deputy deputy of the suspended Colorado Party), Miguel Ángel Larramendi (lawyer, former adviser to the URSEA – Entity of Energy and Water, teacher of Administrative Law at UDELAR), Mauricio Zardo Cabrera ( architect), Nicolás Chírico (party planner, owner of the La Terraza bowling alley, businessman), Manuel Nande Bagnulo, Leonel Enrique D’Albenas Castro (writer and photographer), Matías Sosa de León (businessman), Diego Susena (candidate for the Board Departmental of Montevideo for the National Party), Jacques “Jacky” Paullier Symonds (businessman), Ariel Pfeffer Slobodinsky (director of Endeavor and member of the 40th Floor), Diego Francisco Susena (businessman) and Washington Balliva (the former juvenile judge, ex Customs judge).

« The young women frequented bowling alleys and electronic parties where they easily entered the VIP areas of the premises and there they contacted other adults who asked for sex in exchange for money or some other type of remuneration.« Reported Uruguayan authorities.

On average, 350 complaints of child sexual exploitation are filed in Uruguay. Authorities, however, caution that the number may actually be higher because most cases go unreported.


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