An investigation is being launched into a Venezuelan NGO which yesterday attempted to fly more than 100 children to Peru, allegedly to be reunited with their parents, in what Venezuela's Attorney General has called a case of "child trafficking."
Several members of 'Union Venezolana en Peru' (Venezuelan-Peru Union), which Attorney General Tarek William Saab said is not registered, have been arrested and the children's passports cancelled.
"Yesterday we were informed of the unprecedented action – unprecedented in our republican history – of an undocumented NGO allegedly chartering a flight to Peru with 120 children on board, using fraudulent powers and travel permits," Saab wrote on his Twitter account Saturday.
The documents concerned, he said, had apparently been falsified along with the necessary travel permits in a move that could be interpreted as the trafficking of minors.
"The plot could be linked to crimes, given that the powers which granted the travel permits are fraudulent, and the false travel authorizations were issued by a fake organization," Saab continued.
Venezuela's Special Prosecutor in Vargas, David Gauna, has now been instructed to investigate the case in order to determine whether any crime has been committed.
Testimonies from relatives of the children being transported have revealed that the paperwork was completed at the NGO's private offices, Saab claims. The children at the centre of the case have since been handed back to their families in Venezuela.
A statement on the NGO's Facebook page denies any wrongdoing and accuses the Venezuelan authorities of acting in an "arbitrary manner" by cancelling the flight, tickets for which it has promised to reimburse in full.
Political leader Oscar Perez had earlier condemned the arrest of his wife and two daughters at the Maiquetia de Venezuela international airport just as they were about to board the flight to Peru.
Through Periscope, Perez said: "It seems to us that these 130 children are being subjected to this situation because they say they do not have the authorization to travel when their representatives are outside."
He also reported that Marta Molina, Georgina Perez and Osmary Perez will appear before a court by order of the first state prosecutor of Vargas.
Television host Andres Hurtado had paid for the children's passage so that they could spend Christmas with their parents in Peru, according to NTN 24 America.