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Wednesday, September 1, 1999 Published at 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK

World: Americas

Interpol chase Mexican Madonna

Singing sensation: Shows, calendars - and child sex rings?

An international police search for Mexico's controversial answer to the pop star Madonna is under way amid allegations that the singer helped operate a child sex-slave ring.

Gloria Trevi, the outrageous singer who scandalised society with her sexily provocative songs, shows and self-promotion, went on the run after police in Mexico attempted to bring her and manager Sergio Andrade, 43, in for questioning.

Police say that parents desperate to see their daughters follow in the stilleto-clad footsteps of scantily-clad Trevi, 29, allowed the singer to take young girls under her wing.

But Trevi, dubbed the Mexican Madonna, allegedly procured the girls for Andrade, who then turned them into his sex slaves, locking them up and making them drink from toilets.

Singing sensation

[ image:  ]
Andrade, the brother of a Mexican senator, helped Trevi launch her career in the 1990s and styled her as a more risque version of 1980s Madonna.

Sporting long brown-red hair, Trevi wore torn stockings, mini-skirts and little else.

Her first solo album was a huge success and her cinematic debut in 1991, Pelo Suelto, (Loose hair), broke box office records.

She soon started posing semi-nude for calendars and broke social taboos by calling for women to have more control over abortion, their sexuality and contraception.

Her first three albums sold some five millions copies and she regularly performed to audiences of 20,000 or more.

[ image:  ]
Some of her most notorious stage stunts included stripping a male member of the audience and auctioning off the underwear she had not already thrown to the baying crowd.

Nicknamed La Atrevida, (The Daring One), Trevi was feted by some Mexican intellectuals as a spokesman for the young, a Latin dynamo forcing social change in a conservative society.

Not everyone was impressed. The Roman Catholic church hated her and at one point her own grandmother wrote an open letter to a newspaper complaining about Trevi's lyrics.

Scandal breaks

But it appears that the singer, born Gloria de los Angeles Trevino, was far from a strong-willed feminist icon.

[ image: Campaigns: Trevi scandalised society with her views]
Campaigns: Trevi scandalised society with her views
Leaving home at the age of 13 or 14, she quickly fell under Andrade's spell, a relationship which would lead her to bring other young girls under his influence.

Soon Andrade was allegedly psychologically controlling Trevi who he made sleep on the floor if she angered him.

As her fame grew, he encouraged her to bring more young impessionable girls into the group.

Allegations of abuse first surfaced in the autobiography of a former member of the entourage and a Texan woman reported that Andrade raped her at a Californian hotel when she was only 14-years-old.

At least three women now say Trevi procured them in their early teens for the sexual gratification of Andrade.

Andrade 'fathered child'

Mexican authorities have also taken evidence from one 16-year-old girl who joined the Trevi entourage four years ago with dreams of becoming a dancer.

Last year, the teenager gave birth and her family has since accused Andrade of being the father.

The allegations led the previously adoring Latin American press to turn on the singer.

They reported that Andrade banned girls from contacting relatives and played them off against each other.

One Mexican newspaper even claims to have found satanic messages in the songs by playing them backwards.

Trevi and Andrade at first dismissed the allegations as "ugly gossip" but then vanished.

The last confirmed sighting of Trevi came in July in Cuernavaca, near Mexico City where she allegedly threatened a former member of the entourage.

Interpol says that up to nine girls may be in hiding with the pair and are following up possible sightings in Agrentina, Brazil, Germany and Spain.

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