Sex Trafficking Ring Broken on Long Island

Immigrants abused and taken advantage of

By Hasani Gittens
|  Monday, Aug 10, 2009  |  Updated 1:15 PM EDT
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Sex Trafficking Ring Broken on Long Island

AFP/Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials busted three people for sex trafficking on Long Island.

A brother and sister and another man are accused of forcing illegal immigrants from Central America to work as prostitutes on Long Island, according to federal authorities.

Antonio Rivera, 34 and his sister Jasmin Rivera, 31, owners of the Sonidos de la Frontera bar in Lake Ronkonkoma, and the La Hija del Mariachi bar in Farmingville, lured women into their sordid world with promises of off-the-books work as waitresses and hostesses, officials said.

Starting in September 2007, working with bar manager John Whaley, 34, the Riveras would eventually force the woman -- some as young as 17 -- to have sex with bar patrons for money, the feds charge. If the woman resisted they would be raped or otherwise assaulted, and threatened with being reported to immigration officials, authorities said. 

The Riveras and Whaley are facing charges of conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor and alien harboring.

The number of women involved was not immediately available.

“As alleged in the indictment, these defendants lured innocent young women into the United States with promises of legitimate jobs and the American dream, but once the victims arrived, their dreams turned into nightmares as the defendants used threats and violence to force them into prostitution,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton.

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