Madeleine McCann may have been taken by a sex trafficking gang in a dark industry worth billions of pounds, it’s today claimed.
The youngster vanished 12 years ago today while on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal with her parents Kate and Gerry and her younger twin siblings.
Kate was brought to tears at a prayer service with family and friends to mark the anniversary.
And it’s today alleged Maddie was snatched by predators and thrust into the sex trafficking industry.
“It’s big business. You can get more money than from drugs and guns,” said John Whitehead, from US-based thinktank the Rutherford Institute.
When asked if he thinks Maddie may have been taken in a similar way, Mr Whitehead told the Daily Star : “Oh I think she was. Kids are being snatched all over the world.
“When you look at migrant children coming across the border in the US, they just go missing.”
The research team recently made a hard-hitting commentary titled The Essence of Evil: Sex with Children Has Become Big Business in America, which examined how kids are bought, sold and exploited sexually.
It alleged children are taken on their own driveways, abused in the sex industry every two minutes and on average a child may be raped by 6,000 men during five years while being held captive.
A recent sting in Florida saw 277 suspects arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking.
Mr Whitehead said the industry could be worth as much as $9.5billion in the US alone, with children as young as four being bought and sold.
Meanwhile, detectives in Portugal continue to investigate a “new clue” and “new suspect”.
Correio da Manha, a daily newspaper in the country, yesterday claimed: “Portuguese police admit to being nearer to knowing what happened to Madeleine McCann”.
Three-year-old Maddie vanished from a holiday apartment in Portugal’s Praia da Luz in May 2007.
She was discovered missing from her bed in a seaside complex apartment by her horrified mum shortly after 10pm.
She had been left alone with her younger twin siblings while her parents were dining in a nearby tapas restaurant with their seven pals.
Kate and Gerry cling onto a glimmer of hope that Maddie – who would turn 16 on May 12 – could still be alive.
Scotland Yard has asked for more funding as it continues to follow up leads in Maddie’s disappearance.