MANAGUA, Nicaragua

A United Nations official warned that young girls from indigenous communities near the Nicaragua-Honduras border are being sold — reportedly with their own families’ consent — to drug gangs for up to $2,000 each.

“At the moment, we know about the situation from indigenous organizations in the area, but there aren’t any official reports of the situation,” said Myrna Cunningham, president of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues during a forum on violence against indigenous women and women’s access to justice that was being held in Managua in late April. The alleged crimes were likely not reported because the families fear retaliation, she added.

“There is trafficking of girls all along the border between Nicaragua and Honduras in the Caribbean region”, she added. “They are remote communities where organized crime and drug trafficking are present.”

Carmen Poveda, director of the Women’s Police Station in the Autonomous North Atlantic Region, or RAAN, said that authorities have “a lot of information about the situation and we are investigating.”

Nicaraguan law enforcement officials there are undergoing a joint investigation with Honduran authorities. A special prosecutor for children’s issues in Honduras ordered the investigation.

The 3,600 square mile RAAN area, 370 miles north of Managua, is home mainly to indigenous Miskitos and Mayagnas.

Cunningham said the reports received are very serious because they highlight the situation of extreme poverty in which these indigenous communities live.