Members of an international sex trafficking ring operating out of Mexico were extradited to the United States at the end of last month and beginning of this month. They are charged with forcing adult and underage women into prostitution.
The arrests follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York. Efrain Granados-Corona, Emilio Rojas-Romero, Alan Romero-Granados, Pedro Rojas-Romero, Raul Romero-Granados, Isaac Lomeli-Rivera, Julio Sainz-Flores, and Juan Romero-Granados are charged with sex trafficking offenses in a 23-count indictment in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Efrain Granados-Corona and Emilio Rojas-Romero were extradited to the United States from Mexico on April 26. Alan Romero-Granados and Pedro Rojas-Romero were extradited to the United States from Mexico Tuesday.
A family business
Prosecutors claim that the defendants are members of an international sex trafficking organization that exploited and trafficked adult and minor women in Mexico and in the United States from at least 2000 to 2016.
Members of the group, which operated largely as a family business, used false promises, physical and sexual violence, and threats to force and coerce adult and minor women to engage in commercial sex for the organization’s profit in both Mexico and the United States.
Many of the traffickers are related by blood, marriage, and community. For example: Efrain Granados-Corona is the uncle of Raul Romero-Granados, Isaac Lomeli-Rivera, Juan Romero-Granados, and Alan Romero-Granados; Pedro Rojas-Romero and Emilio Rojas-Romero are brothers; Juan Romero-Granados and Alan Romero-Granados are also brothers; and Isaac Lomeli-Rivera is Raul Romero-Granados’s brother-in-law.
40 customers a day
In most cases, a trafficker entices a victim – frequently a minor – in Mexico. He then uses multiple means to isolate the victim from her family. This could be romantic promises to induce the victim to leave her family and live with him. But also more violent measures such as rape, making it difficult for her to return to her family due to the associated stigma of the rape.
Once a victim is separated from her family, the pimp frequently monitors her communications, keeps her locked in an apartment, leaves her without food, and engages in physical or sexual violence against the victim.
Victims are often told they owe a significant debt and that they must work in prostitution to assist in repaying the debt. Traffickers typically begin forcing the victims to work in prostitution in Mexico, frequently in a neighborhood of Mexico City known as “La Merced.” Victims are often required to see at least 20 to 40 customers per day. They monitor the number of clients a victim sees by surveilling the victim, communicating with brothel workers, and by counting the number of condoms provided to a victim. At the end of the day they typically require the victims to turn over all of their prostitution proceeds.
Into the U.S.
After a victim has worked in prostitution in Mexico for some time, traffickers typically arrange for the victim to be smuggled into the United States. Members of these organizations assist one another in making smuggling arrangements. In many cases, multiple traffickers and multiple victims are smuggled into the United States together. In other cases, one trafficker may remain in Mexico while arranging for a victim to be smuggled together with another trafficker and other victims.
Once in the United States, these pimps generally maintain their victims at one of several shared apartments in New York City. They live in the same apartment and are frequently forbidden to communicate with one another. Once in the United States, traffickers continue to use physical and sexual violence, threats of the same, lies, and coercion to force the victims to work in prostitution.
The victims typically work weeklong shifts either in a brothel, or in a “delivery service.” In a delivery service, they are delivered to a customer’s home by a “driver.” These brothels and delivery services are located both within New York and in surrounding states, including, but not limited to, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Generally, each customer pays $30-35 for 15 minutes of sex. Of that, half of the money typically goes to the driver (in the case of a delivery service) or to the brothel. The other $15 goes to the victim, who is then typically forced to give all of the proceeds to the trafficker.
The traffickers then frequently send, or have their victims send, some of the prostitution proceeds to traffickers’ family members and associates in Mexico by wire transfer. Such transfers provide financial assistance to their families and provide financial support to themselves if they return to Mexico.
“A heinous crime”
“These individuals were transported more than two thousand miles from Mexico to be held accountable for the callous criminal actions alleged in this case,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge for HSI New York. “Those extradited, along with others, operated a family business centered on making money from exploiting females they forced into sex slavery. Now these traffickers will face justice where they made their income, right here in New York.”
“Sex trafficking is a heinous crime that violates both the rule of law and the most basic standards of human dignity. These defendants allegedly deprived women and girls of their freedom and forced them into prostitution against their will. The scope of devastation these defendants allegedly inflicted on countless victims is beyond comprehension. But now they face significant criminal charges in an American court and will have to answer for their allegedly reprehensible actions. Our office is dedicated to combatting this demoralizing crime and helping survivors reclaim their lives,” said US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman.
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