Brazilian police detain tourists in operation to curb ‘sex tourism’

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SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) – Cracking down on visitors who come to Brazil for sex, police raided clubs known for using call girls and strippers, detaining 118 foreigners early Saturday to discourage what authorities called “sexual tourism.”

The tourists – mostly from Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Norway – were briefly held in the northeastern city of Natal for not carrying passports or international identification cards that Brazil requires of all foreigners, police said. They were fined $76 and released.

Luiz Pereira, a federal police officer, said the country hoped the operation “will help discourage tourists who think sexual tourism is easy in Brazil.”

“We are showing that police are paying attention to this problem,” he said.

More than 70 federal agents raided two nightclubs known for using strippers and call girls to attract tourists, Pereira said. Police detained 118 tourists in the raids in Natal, 1,520 miles northeast of Sao Paulo, he said.

Prostitution is legal in Brazil, but people who promote sex tourism can be charged.

Some of the detained had expired visas and were ordered to leave the country within eight days, police said.

Police have conducted 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-ES-04-01-06 1936EST

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