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Latin America & Caribbean

Colombian woman known as 'The Madam,' sentenced in New York for running international prostitution network

Colombia in suspense over the woman with several aliases who was previously jailed for drug trafficking. What tales might she tell about her clients?
9 Ago 2018 – 12:03 PM EDT
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She's known in Colombia as “The Madam,” and she's accused of running a large child prostitution ring in the Colombian city of Cartagena. And she's reportedly threatening to reveal the names of her top clients.

But Liliana del Carmen Campos Puello, was also known as La Ronca – 'the Husky Voiced Woman' – when she appeared before a federal judge in New York in 2002 to answer charges of conspiracy to distribute heroine.

Judge Edward R. Korman sentenced Campos to two years and seven months in prison, and five years of supervised release.

Her lawyer in Colombia told Univision Noticias that a conviction so many years ago had nothing to do with the criminal charges his client now faces in Cartagena.

“That is totally irrelevant,” said attorney Jerónimo Escobar. “What I can say for certain is that it's false that she worked with minors.”

Campos did not go on trial in the United States. Her legal records do not show whether she cooperated with investigators or reached an agreement with prosecutors. There's only a petition, rejected by the judge, to have her prison sentence cut to one year.

The U.S court documents show Campos was not a legal immigrant when she was arrested. The U.S. government generally deports undocumented immigrants before they complete their period of supervised release.Jonathan Kaye, the attorney who represented her in New York, said he did not remember the case.

Campos, who was 26 years old at the time of her arrest, was accused along with four men.

The stiffest sentence went to Juan Manuel Rodriguez Ocampo, who got five years and 10 months in prison and was ordered to undergo addiction treatment. Sandro Marún was sentenced to three years in prison.

Escobar said the reports that his client has threatened to reveal the identities of her clients were not true.

Colombian news media reported that she arrived for a court hearing in Cartagena screaming insults and making rude hand gestures. They quoted her as saying, “Stop screwing with my life, because I am going to throw overboard all the politicians who used to hire me.”

The hearing included an indirect reference to the U.S. case.

Journalist John Montaño, who covered the hearing, reported that the prosecutor noted that while prostitution is not a crime in Colombia, it is a crime to profit from prostitutes. The prosecutor identified Campos as “the biggest madam in Cartagena,” a tourism city on Colombia's north coast.

Escobar told Univision that prosecutors made a mistake when they linked Campos to two other cases of pimping that apparently included evidence of child prostitution.

“They are totally isolated cases. It's totally false, and that's why we'll go to trial,” the lawyer said.

Liliana del Carmen Campos Puello, “The Madam,” was born in the working-class neighborhood of Blas de Lezo in southwestern Cartagena. She's accused of heading a large international child prostitution network in the Colombian city. After her arrest, photos of her travels and on a luxury yacht, posted on her Facebook page, went viral.