Medellín rental regulation
Mayor of Medellín Federico Gutiérrez

Medellín mayor mooting rental regulation to cut crime

Colombia: The Mayor of Medellín Federico Gutiérrez is proposing to regulating short-term apartment rentals in the city.

The proposal, submitted to the recently inaugurated Tourism Secretariat comes in the wake of mounting evidence suggesting that foreigners are exploiting private accommodations to sexually abuse vulnerable girls.

The most recent case involves a masonry worker from Arizona, Richard Opalinski. Colombian authorities, in collaboration with Libertas International and Homeland Security, apprehended Opalinski after he hosted parties in a Medellín Airbnb property with underage girls.

Colombia’s National Police revealed that Opalinski coerced young girls into performing sexual acts while administering drugs to facilitate their abuse. Incriminating evidence was discovered in his short-term rental apartment.

Opalinski’s pattern of behaviour revealed more than 60 trips to Colombia to seek out increasingly younger victims. The average age of these victims was 14.

In response to Opalinski’s arrest, a member of the Colombian National Police emphasized the importance of dismantling criminal operations in the city. “Today we celebrate the capture of Richard Opalinksi. This coward traveled to Colombia to abuse the most vulnerable girls living in the city of Medellín. His arrest shows that he is not nearly as strong as he thinks he is when he is not abusing young girls,” stated the police official.

There have been several other high profile cases of similar activity, as well as the alleged murder of a 20-year old woman in a short-tern rental property.

The proposed legislation to ban or regulate short-term rentals of properties in residential buildings and urbanisations is part of a larger city-wide crackdown by Mayor Gutiérrez against human trafficking and organised crime in the city, especially in popular tourism nightspots, such as Medellín’s Parque Lleras.

The proposal also looks to regulate which type of accommodation can be offered to visitors, after a spate of robberies and killings of foreigners inside their lodgings. During the last seven months, 12 foreign nationals have died after being drugged with scopolamine during encounters with strangers they met through dating apps.

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