New Jersey: Mexicans Forced into Prostitution, Six Charged

TRENTON, New Jersey on July 18, 2013—
“Six members of a human trafficking ring that moved Mexican women into the United States illegally and made them work as prostitutes, often after promising them jobs as housecleaners or baby sitters, have been arrested, state authorities said Thursday.

Jose Romero-Flores, identified as the ringleader, operated three brothels in Lakewood with assistance from his girlfriend, Odulia Bedran Trejo, who helped him find women in Mexico and drove women and clients to and from the brothels, state prosecutors said.

Romero-Flores made the women meet demanding quotas, and it was not uncommon for them to service more than 100 johns in a six-day week and sometimes as many as 40 in a day, at $30 an encounter, authorities said.

Four other associates of Romero-Flores are accused of aiding the scheme.

All the defendants are Mexican nationals living in the United States illegally, the state attorney general said. They were being held in the Ocean County Jail.

Prosecutors would not provide any details about the statuses of the women involved.

Investigators said they believe several dozen women were employed at the brothels, although they said a smaller number worked for Romero-Flores at any given time.

The Lakewood houses of prostitution were connected to a network of brothels, operating in New York and other surrounding states, that “exploited Mexican women who were tricked or coerced into illegally entering the U.S., where they have endured a miserable life of high-volume prostitution,” Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said.

In many cases, the women were brought to the U.S. under the guise they would do housework or baby-sit, he said. In other cases, the women were coerced into entering the U.S. to work at the brothels and send money they earned back to Mexico, authorities said.

Only one of the brothels was up and running when detectives executed a search warrant that included the seizure of ledgers that listed the names of the women and the dates they were scheduled to work, authorities said.

Romero-Flores is charged with human trafficking, promoting organized street crime and promoting prostitution. His girlfriend is charged with promoting organized street crime and promoting prostitution.

The four others face human trafficking conspiracy charges.

The state attorney general’s office said it was unaware if any of the defendants had an attorney. Jail officials wouldn’t accept requests to speak to the defendants by telephone.

Hoffman said the arrests mark the first time that charges have been filed in New Jersey under a new human trafficking law that took effect July 1. The law enhances penalties for human trafficking crimes and creates new crimes including first-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking, a charge that two of the men are facing.

Rep. Chris Smith, an author of federal legislation that helped create New Jersey’s human trafficking task force, praised the state’s efforts.”—Copyright 2013 Associated PressFor the original story, please click here.

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