A sprawling human trafficking investigation may have ensnared hundreds of women in Westchester County and parts of New York City, and investigators are asking potential victims to come forward now that they've arrested the alleged ringleader -- a woman who may have used the business name "Chicas Express," the FBI and local law enforcement partners announced Tuesday.
According to an FBI agent's testimony as detailed in a federal complaint out of the Southern District of New York, Ysenni Gomez allegedly posted an online ad looking for waitresses to work at a restaurant in Manhattan. She interviewed a woman who responded to the ad and said she had a job for her, the FBI agent said. When the woman showed up for her first day of work, Gomez allegedly told her there was no waitress job and forced her to have sex with men, according to the court documents.
The woman was told Gomez would report her to authorities and have her deported if she refused, court documents allege.
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Over the course of an ensuing investigation, FBI agents found more than 1,600 ads they claim were associated with Gomez promoting prostitution. Those ads date back a decade, investigators say, and appeared on platforms from Facebook to Bedpage.com and MegaPersonals.com, according to the criminal complaint.
Gomez was arrested Aug. 12 and charged with sex trafficking in Westchester County and the Bronx, the FBI said -- but details of her arrest weren't released until Tuesday. She is known to use the names Carolina and Ysenni Peguero and may have used the business name "Chicas Express" in the ads she allegedly placed, authorities say.
It wasn't clear if Ysenni had an attorney who could comment on the allegations against her.
Anyone with information or who may have been a victim is asked to call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
**If you believe you are a victim of trafficking, please contact an NYS Regional Service Provider or the National Anti-Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. You can also text “HELP” to 233733 (BeFree). If you are experiencing an emergency, please contact your local police department or dial 911.