MANHATTAN (PIX11) – An international sex trafficking ring that lured young women to New York and forced them into prostitution, was busted by authorities with the arrest of 13 people named in a federal indictment.
Agents from Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided six locations, including four brothels in Queens, Yonkers, Newburgh and Poughkeepsie. Special Agent in Charge James Hayes Jr told PIX 11 News the raids were the culmination of a year-long investigation.
According to the indictment, the traffickers would recruit young Mexican boys to engage in romantic relationships with Mexican women in their 20s, then smuggle them across the border and promising them a better life in New York.
“Once they’d got here that they had to pay a smuggling fee and because they needed to support their families back in Mexico, they needed to engage in prostitution,” Hayes said.
He noted that those who resisted were beaten and abused.
Authorities identified 40-year-old Isaias Flores Mendez as the ringleader. He was already is custody, charged with illegally entering the U.S. According to the indictment, he provided his victims with condoms and birth control pills, and would force them to abort suspected pregnancies.
Hayes said the victims would charge $35-$40 per client and would see as many as 20 clients a day. They were not allowed to keep their earnings.
The suspects are scheduled to be arraigned in federal court on Wednesday. As they sit behind bars, seven of their victims are finally free. They were rescued by agents during the morning raids.