US ‘observer’ joins NBI raid on Navotas cybersex den
Four young girls were rescued and two suspected cybersex traffickers catering to foreign pedophiles were arrested in Navotas City on Wednesday with the help of an agent from the US Department of Homeland Security, according to the National Bureau of Investigation.
NBI Director Virgilio Mendez said an American undercover agent joined an NBI operation on Monte Loyola Street, Barangay San Roque, that resulted in the arrest of Benzen “Chen” Caneba, 30; and his partner James de la Torre, 21.
Four girls aged 12 to 19 were found in one of the rooms of Caneba’s three-story house, said lawyer Abdul Jamal Dimaporo, the NBI agent on the case.
Dimaporo said the suspects were caught in the act of offering Caneba’s two nieces and two neighbors to a poseur client through online chat and video. Seized from the room were a web camera, several sex toys and a computer used by Caneba in his illegal operation.
The US agent acted as an “observer,” said Mendez, who declined to give further details on the American’s role in the operation. The raid was conducted by a team led by Dante Bonoan of the NBI’s Anti-Human Trafficking Division, who earlier secured a search warrant from a local judge.
According to Dimaporo, the US Department of Homeland Security earlier arrested several US-based clients of Caneba. Further investigation in the US traced his operation to the Navotas residence.
Caneba “sold, distributed and transmitted videos of the children using Skype,” he said. The suspect also used cell phones to take lewd videos of the girls, the official added.
To entrap Caneba, the NBI used a poseur client to chat with the suspect online and to make him show the girls on video. “He said the girls would do whatever (the client) asked for $500,” Dimaporo said.
Interviewed by the Inquirer after the raid, the father of one of the rescued girls said he did not know his daughter was being used by Caneba in his illegal activities. “She often went to that house. I had no idea what was going on,” the parent said.