IJM Pampanga: Woman Identified as Pimp on ABC News Arrested After a Year of Searching, Girls as Young as 11 Set Free

A bar on Fields Avenue in Pampanga, the Philippines
A bar on Fields Avenue in Pampanga, the Philippines

PAMPANGA, THE PHILIPPINES – After more than a year of searching, IJM helped police locate and arrest a woman who had tried to sell young teens to an American man, without realizing she was talking to a news reporter and cameras were rolling. In last week’s operation, eight girls and teens, ranging from 11 to 19 years old, were rescued.

Tracking a Pimp Uncovered in ABC News Report

In early 2013, a woman approached an undercover reporter from ABC’s Nightline, telling him she had young teenagers who are virgins to offer for sale.

Little did this pimp know that she was revealing her crimes—and her identity—to an international audience.

Over the last year, IJM has been working with the Philippine National Police Regional Anti-Trafficking Task Group, Region 3, to track down this woman and stop her from hurting more children.

In March 2014, IJM and the anti-trafficking police located where she was working and started tracking her movements. She remained evasive, and planning the operation took another two months. On Tuesday, May 27, the rescue team of IJM staff and police was ready. At dusk, they met the woman—and the children she intended to sell them—near Fields Avenue, a main strip of bars, restaurants and clubs where neon lights advertise girls girls girls.

Authorities arrested the woman and her accomplice, while IJM helped escort all of the children safely back to a safe government building.

Children Safe, Getting Care

The girls were afraid, shy and confused. Seven of the eight are minors, and the young woman is just 19 years old. Police gently asked questions; one by one, the girls shared how this woman had offered them a way to make money their families desperately needed. Some revealed they had endured a history of abuse—one had been raped before, another physically abused by her parents.

One girl said she’d been told she was going to be taken care of by a foreigner who would buy her food and clothes. When she found out she would be forced to have sex, she told the pimps she wanted out. But it was too late; they told her she would be killed if she tried to leave.

IJM social workers stayed beside the girls the entire time. More than half of the girls were 14 or younger, and their childlike mannerisms were heart-breaking.

The next day, the 11-year-old girl said, “It’s good that there are good people who came to take us from them [pimps]…At least we are here now—safe.”

The survivors are now in a safe aftercare shelter, where they can receive crisis counselling and make long-term plans with their social workers.