Wednesday, December 6, 2023

ARGENTINA | 09-10-2019 09:06

Argentine ex-spy detained in Mexico over sex-trafficking allegations

Ex-SIDE agent and brothel owner detained in Mexico and charged with sex trafficking following extradition request from Argentine federal judge.

An Argentine former intelligence agent has been detained by the Mexican authorities in in Cancún, acting on an extradition request from Federal Judge María Romilda Servini de Cubría.

The Attorney General’s Office in Mexico confirmed the arrest and that it had been requested by the Argentine government, acting on allegations of human trafficking for sexual purposes.

According to local press reports, the former agent is Raúl Martins, a 70-year-old who formerly worked as a spy for the Secretaría de Inteligencia (SIDE) and is a known owner of brothels in both Argentina and Mexico.

He was reportedly captured on October 3, a few days ago. Servini de Cubría has requested his extradition and that he be detained in Argentina under pre-trial arrest.

“The detained is requested by the Buenos Aires National Criminal and Correctional Federal Court to be processed for his probable responsibility in potential criminal offences of: human-trafficking, and illicitly-funded activities,” informed the Attorney General’s Office in a statement that did not include a date for the arrest.

Local outlets reported that Mexican authorities did not proceed with the immediate expulsion of Martins, however, as he holds Mexican citizenship as a naturalised individual.

According to reports in Perfil and other outlets, Martins allegedly defended himself by saying that he “reserves the right to non self-incrimination as long as no state secret, [in his possession] per his time as an employee of the National Secretariat of Intelligence, is revealed.”


Servini de Cubría has asked Mexico to complete his extradition in compliance with existing bilateral accords. Federal prosecutors Alejandra Mángano and Marcelo Colombo from the National Taskforce on Human-Trafficking and Exploitation (Protex, in its Argentine acronym) argue that Martins could impede the course of the active investigation, with the goal of “finishing to disassemble the organisation” led by the ex-agent. 

They further detail that apart from Martins’ brothels, where prostitutes plied their trade, the former spy is involved in the sexual exploitation of women recruited against their will. 

According to the prosecutors, as early as 2010, Martins and a group of other individuals were involved in sexual exploitation of women at bars, cafés, and cocktail lounges scattered throughout Buenos Aires City, including establishments such as the Anchorena Swinger club, Hot Area, Fama, Top Secret, Brut, Sweet Club, Oba-Oba, Hippopotamus, Extra Brut, and Approach. 

An ex-agent of SIDE, Martins has been charged with the sexual exploitation and organisation of foreign prostitution, charges that could lead to a sentence of over eight years in prison. He denies the allegations.

 A document accessed by Perfíl, issued on July 11 last year, “presented [Martins’] statement in writing, indicating his lack of knowledge with the disputed events, the denial of incriminating evidence, denying being the head of an illicit operation, and of the charges of which he was accused of.” 

His wife, Estela Noemí Percival, has also been charged by prosecutors. She has reportedly told prosecutors that she is now separated from Martins.

Martins’ investigation is being led by the Fundación La Alameda (“The Alameda Foundation”), Protex, and his own daughter, Lorena Martins, who reportedly provided the authorities with details of the inner workings, social networks and earnings of the criminal operation. 


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