20/20: Americans Enable Child Prostitution Abroad

Ultimately, Maritza agreed to deliver two minors for sex. The price would be $300 each, higher than usual, she said, due to the increased risks associated with the police crackdown on underage prostitution. The girls, she said, would be 15 years old and very pretty, and the money would have to be paid directly to Maritza without ever telling the girls the price.

Maritza, who worked as a prostitute for the Castillos for 10 years, became their principal agent when Tony was incarcerated and Sharon fled the country. Now, she was the one doing the recruiting, finding young girls to bring into the life. "The Castillos," she said, "had been very good to her."

Glimmer of Hope

Shelters for recovering underage prostitutes are full of girls like the ones who worked for Maritza and the Castillos. The combination of vulnerable children fending for themselves in Costa Rica, and thousands of American men with lots of dollars and little sympathy to spend pierces this country's image of prosperity.

On 20/20's last day in Costa Rica, our team decided to take up a small collection for one of the children's shelters in San Jose. A dozen giggling girls, with bright hopeful faces, gathered around us to say thanks and goodbye. Some held dolls in their hands. One carried an 8 1/2-month-old fetus in her womb. It was Juliana who had found her way to help.

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