I witnessed this in the mid-eighties.
I was at Iquitos airport in Peru. The departure lounge was full with mainly locals but also a scattering of foreigners. There entered a middle aged man, overweight and balding and dressed in sports jacket, grey trousers and an open necked shirt. He was accompanied by two young uniformed police officers. He went over to the check-in desk and spoke briefly after which there was an announcement :
“Would Miss xxx please come to the check-in desk. Would Miss…”
A young woman stood up looking startled and went over to the desk. She was caucasian, young, probably 18 or 19, slim, with long dark hair and dressed in typical back-packer style. T-shirt, cut off jeans and sandals and carried a small back-pack. She spoke briefly with the middle aged man after which he led her “escorted” by the uniformed officers either side, to the ladies toilets at the side of the departure lounge. After checking no-one was inside she was taken in by the older man and one of the uniformed officers, while the other stood guard outside. The westerners, especially the women, watched this with horror, while the locals studiously ignored what was happening.
Maybe 20 minutes later the men reappeared, they briefly spoke amongst themselves, while the older one lit up a cigarette, ignoring the “No Smoking” signs. After about another 5 minutes they left the departure area. The young woman then appeared looking dishevelled and distressed. A western woman stood up and rushed over to her but was waved away and the young woman went back to her seat. Another tried to talk to her and was similarly rebuffed after which the flight was called and I lost sight of this unfortunate young woman.
What had happened to her? I have long thought over this and can only surmise that a routine check had turned-up something illegal in her luggage. Not overly serious but enough to get the attention of the senior plain clothed officer. They obviously took her to the toilets for privacy while making sure she was not carrying anything illegal on her person, probably a strip search. The time taken and her later dishevelled state indicate this was quite thorough. How did she escape any further police action? Maybe she paid a bribe, maybe something else?
This sounds like a fantasy but it is not. It is a cautionary tale for young women thinking about travelling alone in 3rd world countries.