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Bogota - Colombian police have dismantled an Israeli-Colombian criminal ring which abused at least 70 schoolgirls, selling them to tourists for sex, local media reported Monday.

The network operated in the capital Bogota, Medellin in the north-west and Santa Marta and Cartagena de Indias on the northern coast.

The network is believed to have been comprised of 14 Israelis and two Colombians, one of whom was a local police officer. The Colombians and six of the Israelis have been arrested so far, according to the daily El Tiempo.

The girls, whose ages were not given, were paid between 200 000 and 400 000 pesos (63 to 126 dollars) for offering sexual services to tourists in hotels.

The network is believed to have started operating in Medellin six years ago.

"[Something] terrible is happening to us as a society, because many people knew this was occurring, and they let it happen," Medellin Mayor Federico Gutierrez said.

dpa