crime

Members of ring that forced minors into prostitution, drug use given 59 years in jail

Sixteen-year-old girl died after taking cocaine with gang ringleader

Nora, who was induced into prostitution by the gang, died of a drug overdose.
Nora, who was induced into prostitution by the gang, died of a drug overdose.

The lifeless body of 16-year-old Nora was found by her own parents on the stairs leading up to their apartment in Palma de Mallorca. It was 11pm on September 25, 2011 and they’d gone out to look for her, worried that she hadn’t come home yet.

The teenager had fainted before reaching the door, and died of an overdose. A high school student and the only child of a middle-class couple, Nora had been lured into a local crime ring that dealt in drugs and the sexual exploitation of juveniles.

The Provincial Court of Palma has just sentenced seven people to a total of 59 years in jail, after finding them guilty of inducing Nora and other teenagers to prostitute themselves in exchange for money or narcotics.

The longest convictions are for the two ringleaders, Edison Cornelio Flores, 38 — 17 years and six months in prison — and Eva María Vera, 38 — 15 years and six months. Five defendants were acquitted of all charges.

The court warned that the trial dealt only with Nora’s induced prostitution, not her death

Francisco and María Teresa Ayala, Nora’s parents, said they will appeal to the Supreme Court to ensure all defendants are sent to jail.

“From now on I will fight for all the victims in this case. Public attention has focused on Nora, but in reality there were five minors who were abused and drugged,” said Francisco Ayala. “Although it looks like their families wanted to conceal it out of shame, it is necessary to defend their dignity and seek justice. I will fight for the whole truth to come out.”

On the day of Nora’s death, Flores and Vera had shared cocaine with the teenager. According to the court’s findings, the man “had full sexual relations with her, in complete awareness of, and taking advantage of, the fact that she was underage.” In exchange, Nora was given a gram of cocaine. Vera received half a gram for making the date possible.

Vera had first lured Nora into the ring when the latter was just 14 years old. Her role was to coordinate meetings with the clients and sell drugs. This is how she pushed her victims into a spiral of sexual exploitation by other members of the ring as well as outsiders — they ranged from young and older men, to retirees who wanted to have sex with teenagers.

Three underage victims — one of whom has a disability — gave testimony about their horrific experiences in a trial held four months ago.

Following Nora’s death, it took the police nine months to follow all the leads and arrest the members of the ring. A search of Nora’s computer and her coded messages to friends and ring members helped investigators build the case.

In its ruling, the court warned that the trial dealt only with Nora’s induced prostitution, not her death, and that further legal proceedings could ensue if “new elements are found to determine” who was responsible for her death.

The court found that the drugs had perforated the teenager’s body, and that Nora suffered “an adverse reaction to the consumption of toxic substances, causing a generalized lung thrombosis.”

Nora’s parents had no idea about their daughter’s parallel life. All they had noticed were sudden mood swings, they said.

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