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April 6, 2006

Brasilian police crack down on 100+ foreigners in sex tourism bust

Brazilian police detain 118 tourists in operation to curb sex tourism
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - Police cracking down on sex tourism detained 118 tourists for failing to carry proper identification into nightclubs in a northeastern Brazilian city, police said Saturday.

Authorities briefly detained 110 tourists early Friday and another eight early Saturday in the city of Natal, 2,450 kilometers (1,520 miles) northeast of Sao Paulo in Rio Grande do Norte state, federal police officer Luiz Pereira said.

The tourists _ mostly from Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Norway _ were held for not carrying their passports or international identification cards that Brazil requires of all foreign citizens. They were also fined 165 reals (US$76; euro63).

"We hope the repercussion of this operation will help discourage tourists who think sexual tourism is easy in Brazil,'' Pereira said. "We are showing that police are paying attention to this problem.''

More than 70 federal agents raided two nightclubs known for using strippers and call girls to attract tourists. The agents questioned all customers and asked to see their identification.

About 20 of those detained were charged with drug possession after police allegedly found them with marijuana. Some also had expired visas and were told to leave the country within eight days as required by law, police said.

Prostitution is legal in Brazil, but people who promote sexual tourism can be charged. Police have conducted several similar operations in recent months in Natal. In one raid, six Italian men were arrested on charges of owning prostitution houses aimed at tourists.-AP

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