Three alleged sex traffickers accused of smuggling teen girls from Mexico and forcing them into prostitution in the tri-state area have been extradited to New York for trial.
Benito Lopez-Perez, Anastasio Romero-Perez and Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez have been indicted on charges they forced girls as young as 14 into the sex trade, officials said Monday.
Investigators said the traffickers worked with livery cab drivers who would help solicit customers by handing out cards with pornographic photos. The drivers would then deliver the girls to paying customers.
Homeland Security officials said the suspects would beat the victims when they did not earn enough money. They said the three suspects, all brothers, have been smuggling dozens of women into the U.S. since 2003.
The accused traffickers pleaded not guilty at their arraignments last week and Monday.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch called sex trafficking of women and girls a form of "modern-day slavery." Lynch said the defendants had lied to the women promising them real jobs and a better life.
"The women were cut off from their families and kept dependent on the traffickers, whose promises of love soon turned to lies, beatings and threats to the victims' families in order to maintain their hold over them," Lynch said.
The arrest of the Perez brothers brings to 52 the number of suspects indicted in Brooklyn on sex trafficking counts in the last decade. More than 100 victims have been rescued and have since been re-united with their families, including 14 children now reunited with their victim mothers, prosecutors said.
Sex traffickers in past cases have used houses across New York to try to hide the women. Houses on Frisby Avenue in the Bronx, Dartmouth Street in Hempstead and Madison Street in Chinatown were among the locations used by smugglers.
Many of those charged are from the Tenancingo region of Mexico where the women are initially found and then sent to the U.S., investigators said.