Thursday, April 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 06-10-2023 17:48

Judicial world abuzz as 'human-trafficking mega scandal' reaches court

Judge Ariel Lijo hears testimony from witness who has set judicial world abuzz with denunciation of a human-trafficking ring allegedly involving members of Argentina's elite.

Roberto Oscar Mazzoni appeared in Comodoro Py courthouse on Wednesday morning and set the judicial world buzzing when he denounced what local media have described as a “human-trafficking mega-scandal” apparently involving several members of the Argentine elite, including businessmen, football club executives, entertainment personalities and the heir to a multi-million fortune among others. 

Judge Ariel Lijo is in charge of the investigation. According to reports by the Noticias Argentinas news agency, Mazzoni not only named names but described the “modus operandi” used to recruit victims of all genders and ages for sex parties aboard cruisers, in this city and the province of Córdoba. 

In April 2023, Mazzoni made a complaint in the federal courts claiming to have been a victim. After his testimony, the surname of a well-known family in the country, people in charge of gyms and the name of a businessman were written in the file.

This case has reportedly been building up for the past two years with all the potential for a mega-scandal. The formation of the human-trafficking ring allegedly predated the pandemic.

Mazzoni testified: “I’m the victim of a criminal organisation dedicated to netting the underaged and adults alike to prostitute them and also to the distribution of drugs. There are many people whom I cannot identify but also others whose identities I do know and who use pseudonyms.”

Contacted by Noticias Argentinas news agencies, the defence lawyers for the accused said the allegations were baseless and part of an attempted extortion ploy by Mazzoni who has nothing to lose, while their clients have their reputations at stake.

According to the lawyers, the charges are nothing more than “seeking money by smearing the good name of people who only work for the wellbeing of society as a whole.”

Following the testimony, Lijo demanded further evidence based on new statements with a ruling expected soon, given the intensity of the rumours and speculation surrounding VIPs committing extremely serious crimes. 

Those involved include an heir to a fortune, a senior executive of a First Division football club, a leading businessman of the healthcare sector, a well-known philanthropist and media personalities.

Mazzoni detailed how he and other victims became entrapped in a vicious circle of vulnerability which lasted years and not only prevented them from escaping but also denouncing the manoeuvres victimising them.

The complainant says that he has provided all the evidence for the investigation such as audios, videos and "everything there is, which is basically the one who introduced me at the time to the person who used me and my friends and everything to recruit children."

His charges include accounts of sex parties in de luxe high-rises in this city mixing drugs and prostitution with the latter the bottom line for the organisation. Mazzoni also affirmed that he had been drugged on various occasions with cocaine and ketamine without realising it at the time.

The complainant hopes that the case will advance, while the lawyers for the accused are pushing for it to be dropped on the basis of a lack of evidence.



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