By John Marzulli for NEW YORK DAILY NEWS on February 7, 2014—
Benito Lopez-Perez was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Lopez-Perez subjected his victim, Carmen, to brutal beatings with his fists and feet.
Three Mexican brothers from an infamous town of pimps were slammed with long jail sentences after two of their victims delivered heart-wrenching pleas for justice in a Brooklyn courtroom.
“I can only describe my life in New York as five years in hell,” said a woman named Carmen who was forced into prostitution at the age of 14.
Carmen’s tormentor was Benito Lopez-Perez, a pint-sized thug hailing from the dirt-poor town of Tenancingo, which has emerged as a ground zero of sex trafficking.
“From the day I arrived in New York until the day I escaped, Benito forced me to work seven days a week. I was just merchandise for him. His associates, his clients treated me as an animal.”
The woman told Federal Judge Carol Amon that she was forced to service johns in their private homes, as well as season farm workers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – as many as 60 men in a single day.
“At the end of the day I was bleeding and in great pain caused by these men,” she said through an interpreter.
Feds announced the arrest of Anastasio Romero-Perez in a sex trafficking ring on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, in New York. Romero-Perez was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Lopez-Perez, 35, and brothers Anastasio Romero-Perez, 40, and Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez, 52, were representative of familial clans in their home town who prey on teenage girls with false promises of a better life in the U.S. or threats of violence.
Another victim, identified only as Jane Doe, told the judge that Romero-Perez forced her to tattoo his name on her stomach and then called her his property.
Carmen said she was subjected to brutal beatings by Lopez-Perez with his fists and feet when she wasn’t turning tricks.
“I was upset because he hadn’t killed me and that I had to live another day of torture,” she said.
After finally escaping his clutches in 2010, Carmen was so traumatized she wanted to kill herself. Locked in a ward under suicide watch at Bellevue Hospital, she felt safe for the first time in years.
“Although I have been free for three years, there is a part of me that is still trapped,” Carmen said. “Your honor, I believe it is very important for you to know that no woman decides on her own to be a prostitute and live the life I lived. I am a victim of human trafficking. I and the others are not merchandise.”
Jose Barrientos-Perez was sentenced to 10 years because he was guilty of harboring the hookers in apartments throughout the city.
Defense lawyer Florian Miedel insisted his client is “not a monster,” rather an unfortunate product of the twisted town where boys grow up wanting to become pimps to escape the crushing poverty.
Romero-Perez explained his behavior as “perhaps because we never had the opportunity to be anything better in life.”
Lopez-Perez and Romero-Perez were sentenced to 18 years in prison; Barrientos-Perez 10 years because he was guilty of harboring the hookers in apartments throughout the city.
“It has to be understood that the laws of this country will not turn a blind eye to the criminal subjugation of women,” Amon said.
The judge also ordered the defendants to pay about $1.3 million in restitution, but the brothers will be deported after serving their terms so the likelihood of the two victims collecting monetary damages is practically zero.
“We hope that these sentences bring some measure of closure to the victims as they attempt to heal from the mental and physical abuse inflicted by these defendants,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch.”
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