August 19, 2022, 10:51 | Updated: August 19, 2022, 10:59
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press, “Plácido did not commit a crime nor was he part of the organization, but rather was a consumer of prostitution.”
The name of famous opera singer Plácido Domingo came up in an investigation into a cult-like criminal organization in Argentina. Police have been investigating the Buenos Aires gang, which is believed to be a front for human and sex trafficking, including minors.
A law enforcement official, speaking anonymously as the investigation continues, said Associated press: “Plácido did not commit a crime, nor is he part of the organization, but rather he was a consumer of prostitution.” In Argentina, prostitution is not illegal and as of Thursday morning, no charges had been brought against Domingo.
Domingo has previously faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment, which were deemed “credible” by LA Opera’s independent investigation.
Law enforcement carried out several raids targeting the criminal sect, which operates under the name “Buenos Aires Yoga School”. Prosecutors’ documents indicate that the organization “built a cult around its leader” and forced its members into “a situation of slavery and/or sexual exploitation”, according to PA.
Following a police raid last week, local media reported that 19 people had been arrested and 37 properties seized. Among the items seized were audio tapes of tapped conversations, which are believed to have linked high-level politicians, business leaders and public figures to the criminal organization.
One of the voices heard on the tapes is said to be Domingo’s, and Latin American television and radio broadcast the audio clips on their channels.
In the taped recording, the voice of a man who authorities say belongs to Domingo is heard talking to a woman named “Mendy,” believed to be Susana Mendelievich, an Argentine pianist Domingo played with. in the past.
In the conversation, the man identified as Domingo describes his plans to leave a separate dinner party from his agents, so he can secretly meet the woman identified as Mendelievich, while he is in Buenos Aires for a series of concerts in april.
Two other tapes, involving Mendy, detail his conversation with Domingo. In one, Mendy speaks to an unidentified man, saying, “Plácido said he could come visit us, that is, he will come visit me. Because he’s going home to New York and he remembered yesterday.
In the final clip, Mendy is recorded talking to a man police believe to be Juan Percowicz, the alleged leader of the criminal network. She said to Percowicz: “He [Domingo] already called me and he set up the matufia (shady deal) for me to stay at the hotel without the agents noticing”.
No date has been made public for when these phone calls took place. Domingo has not spoken publicly about the case and his management did not respond to requests for comment.
A judicial officer, also addressing PA on condition of anonymity, said sex trafficking and exploitation were the main sources of income for the organization, which had an estimated monthly income of $500,000.
According to the prosecution’s documents, the yoga school in Buenos Aires included at least seven women in the group when they were still minors and were sexually exploited.
“The encounters involved a practice of sexual slavery because the ‘students’ were made available to clients when and where they wanted, for long periods of time,” according to the documents.
Plácido Domingo was one of the most famous operatic tenors in the world.
Since 2019, more than 20 women have claimed they were sexually harassed or witnessed inappropriate behavior by the opera star when he held executive positions at the Washington National Opera or LA Opera. Domingo has since parted ways with the two major American opera houses and no longer performs at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
In March 2020, the Los Angeles Opera’s independent investigation found that the opera star engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with women between 1986 and 2019, and that the allegations against him were “credible, in part because of the similarities in their accounts”.
According to his website, Domingo continues to perform in Europe and Latin America and is currently touring Mexico.