U.S. child-sex tourism to Cuba hardly exists
These stories are the result of a joint investigation by Toronto Star reporters Robert Cribb, Jennifer Quinn and Julian Sher, and El Nuevo Herald reporter Juan O. Tamayo.
An odd combination of Washington’s trade embargo on Cuba and tough U.S. laws on sex tourism has kept down the number of U.S. travelers who fly to the island to abuse underage girls and boys.
U.S. residents account for an estimated — and chilling — 25 percent of child-sex tourism worldwide, said Miami-based FBI Special Agent Heather Armstrong, a member of the Crimes against Children Squad.
About one-quarter of the child-sex tourists in Cambodia surveyed about 10 years ago were from the United States and Canada, said Carol Smolenski, head of the U.S. branch of the global monitoring group End Child Prostitution and Trafficking.
And U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says its Operation Predator led to the arrest of a record 1,655 child pornographers, child-sex tourists and facilitators, human smugglers and traffickers of minors in fiscal year 2012. Florida accounted for 406 of the arrests, including 81 in the Miami district.
Yet U.S. child-sex tourism to an island just 90 miles off the coast of Florida falls far short of the levels of exploitation by Canadians and Spaniards found by a joint investigation by the Toronto Star and the El Nuevo Herald.
“When we talk about hotbeds of activity, [Cuba] is not one that comes up,” said one ICE official familiar with child-sex tourism cases.
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