Tragic: Brazil's streets are filled with 'thousands' of desperate kids. Two pictured here with a missionary charity worker
A Sunday People investigation today reveals how kids living in shocking squalor and high on crack cocaine and glue, are exploited by drug dealers and pimps

Children as young as 10 are being forced to sell themselves for sex on the streets of Brazil to cash in on the waves of ­football fans heading to the World Cup.

A Sunday People investigation today reveals how kids living in shocking squalor and high on crack cocaine are exploited by drug dealers and pimps.

And as 600,000 foreign fans ­including Brits flood into Brazil this week, the youngsters' plight will get worse.

I flew out last week to host city Recife on the north-east coast to ­interview children caught up in the vicious cycle of prostitution.

As a former detective and with ­nearly 30 years of experience in ­investigating child abuse, including the Jimmy Savile scandal, what I found in Brazil made me shudder.

Thousands of ­desperate kids...

TOUT for sex for as little as £1.30 after pimps order them to wear clothes and make-up to look older.

PLY their sordid trade within yards of hotels where British fans will stay.

SNIFF from bottles of industrial glue to stop the pangs of hunger.

FEAR for their lives after a 14-year-old prostitute was murdered and her body dumped in the street last month by a man who refused to pay for sex.

This shocking trade of young girls and boys on street corners goes on under the noses of police in the world's seventh wealthiest economy. With its enticing beaches next to towering skyscrapers, Recife is the fifth largest city in Brazil and will host five World Cup matches.

England will play there in ­knockout games if they win their group. But Recife is rife with drug and child abuse which charity workers say is ­the same across all cities in the country.


Glue kids: They inhale glue - nicknamed 'cola'
As soon as you arrive at the airport, the taxi drivers waiting to pick you up offer to take you to places to buy drugs or sex. Children sit around in city centre squares where fans will gather. This should be a harmless scene of innocence but many of these kids will be offering sex without a second thought.

What immediately struck me is how young these ­children were. Many had attempted to make themselves look older with clothes and make-up.

Accompanied by a translator and a missionary who works with children on the streets, I spoke to three very young girls, one of whom was clearly not well because of the drugs she was taking and glue she was sniffing.

Lorrisa is only 13 and her frame so tiny that I am sure her growth had been stunted by drugs. She sniffed from a plastic bottle containing strong industrial glue, which they ­nickname "cola", as she explained how she lives. I held the bottle under my nose to see what it was like and the smell was overpowering, leaving me with a ­splitting headache. Lorrisa told me: "Sniffing the glue makes me feel dizzy and numb and it stops me feeling hungry so I don't need to eat.

"It helps me cope with the ­violence and danger on the streets." I was joined by Lorrisa's friend Raphaela, 13. She told me how she gets approached by scores of men looking for sex - locals, tourists and taxi ­drivers. They will pay 10 Brazilian real, the equivalent of £2.60.

She recounted a frightening story about her friend Mickela, 14. She said: "Mickela lived on the street and she was murdered on the day of a police strike . "A man picked her up by the Metro train station and she had sex with him. "But afterwards he refused to pay, killed her and dumped her body. It only ­happened a few weeks ago."

I was told later by an older prostitute who has taken on a mother role for the children that the police have failed to find the killer. In the three hours I spent with the children as they openly went about their business, a police car passed twice but officers did nothing. Pimps come and go alongside drug dealers, safe in the knowledge the police are unable to stem the horror.

Calliem, 14, told me how she first started selling her body for sex at 11. "I have sex so many times with men and they only pay me five Brazilian real," she said. It is the ­equivalent of £1.30. Calliem is a regular user of "cola", cannabis and crack cocaine - acquiring the crack from a regular dealer who visits the streets.

She said: "My dad is dead, my mum lives in a shelter with my aunt and there were nine brothers and sisters. "Three of them are now dead. One was killed in a shooting." Her remaining family know she lives on the streets selling herself for sex.

What was most shocking was the matter-of-fact way she described her life, as though it was perfectly ­normal and accepted. Calliem told me she fears the World Cup will just attract more men wanting to have sex. A woman aged 41, who has lived on the streets since she was seven, said: "The children are at real risk from local men and tourists." She pointed out one boy aged 10 who has been forced into prostitution.

She said: "The children go with the men because they are high on drugs or need more money to buy drugs. "They use drugs to numb the pain of the sexual abuse, become addicted then need to sell themselves over and over again to raise the money."

Drugs are widely available in Brazil and the country is in the grip of a crack cocaine epidemic.

I met a 15-year-old boy hooked on crack and "cola" and pimped by a man they call the Uncle. I was also taken to the ­notorious Santo Amaro favela slum to speak in secrecy with a middle-ranking drug dealer, Stephanie. You could pass her in the street and not think anything of her but the reality is much of the community fears her.

She told me: "I just sell crack but only to teenagers and older people. One of my clients is a lawyer."

When I told her the drugs were often sold on to young children she began to cry. She has children of her own and explained that her eldest son aged 18 is hooked on crack .

And she told me just how dangerous crack is: "It was sent by the devil to do three things - to kill, to steal and ­destroy people's lives."

I got the ­impression life there was a conveyor belt that she, too, could not get off - facing a future of jail or being ­murdered in a drugs feud. I met the police commander, Major Angelo, who invited me on a tour of the station alongside an officer from the Human Trafficking department.

To my surprise, when I asked the officer when was the last case they dealt with of a child either selling themselves for sex or being sold by an adult for sex, he could not remember because it was such a long time ago.

Major Angelo added: "We are taking the issue of fans looking for sex with children very seriously. "We have set up a helpline and will respond to any calls and look for evidence." But however genuine the chief's intentions might be, it was ­evident he and the Brazilian police have no idea how to tackle the problem. Yet a simple surveillance operation over a week would net many child sex offenders and enable kids to be rescued.

Police in the UK will be ­working with Brazilian ­authorities to stop known child sex offenders coming in. The charity Happy Child, set up to care for ­children who get pregnant by selling themselves for sex, has launched a warning campaign for World Cup fans which includes wristbands for the kids.

Chief Executive Sarah de Carvalho MBE said: "We are worried about the influx of fans. "We know with ­major sporting events that vulnerable children are at risk of being sexually exploited.

Our It's A Penalty campaign has been set up to raise awareness among football fans that if they engage in sexual ­exploitation with a child aged 17 or under they could face prosecution in Brazil and their home country."

One girl helped by the charity, Erica, told me: "Shortly after my birth I was given by my ­prostitute mum to a friend.

"This friend owned a ­brothel and cared for me until I was 10.


Homeless: A girl prostitute shares a mattress in the street
"The friend then told me it was time for me to earn my own money and repay what had been spent on me for so many years. "I had to work in the brothel and I had to have sex with visiting men."

She ran away and spent the next two years on the streets and in shelters, each time running away after being sexually abused or beaten up. Aged 13, she met a 24-year-old man and moved in with him. She became pregnant and he left her, so once again she was on the streets.

Happy Child stepped in and she now has a hopeful future. The girl's baby boy is due in August and the cot beside her bed is ready. But there are thousands more whose only future is selling their bodies. I have been to many countries exposing or identifying sexual ­exploitation but the openness of the abuse in the World Cup host city is shocking.

What would be amazing is if the many millions who will tune in to watch the Cup in the comfort of their living rooms could spare a thought for the children whose lives are being ruined.

I will personally be writing to Brazil's president and head of police to present them with my evidence and draw ­urgent attention to this horrific abuse.