Columbia brothel busted in major Federal investigation

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

29 people in 8 states arrested on sex trafficking charges.

ATLANTA (AP) — Raids on a network of sex traffickers around the Southeast resulted in more than two-dozen arrests and the rescues of Latin American women forced to work as prostitutes, authorities said Friday. Federal authorities reported that a suspected brothel was busted in Columbia, and a possible victim of international sex trafficking was rescued Thursday.A Greenville woman in Greenville was arrested along with 28 others in 13 cities in eight states during a federal investigation into sex trafficking in the Southeast.

The undercover investigation identified a loose organization of independent traffickers who worked together to transport and exploit Hispanic women for prostitution in southern states, authorities said. An indictment filed in federal court in Macon charges 38 people with sex trafficking-related crimes, 29 of whom were arrested Thursday in eight southern states. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations office headed the bust with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force – Investigations, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Emergency Management Administration, and multiple state and local law enforcement agencies.

The 15-month investigation identified an organization that coordinated illegal movement of Hispanic women from Mexico and South America across the border to brothels in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Lousiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. One location suspected to be a brothel within this network was found here in Columbia, where one suspect and one victim were secured by Federal Agents. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia where at least one victim identified during the investigation was a juvenile when she was trafficked. Some of the victims were kidnapped and forced into sexual violence, while others were promised a better life and then held hostage by people who kept them financially dependent or threatened to harm or shame them or their families, Moore said. Authorities say traffickers within this organization worked as independent operators to coordinate the movement and delivery of women for illegal sexual purposes.

They may also qualify for T-visas, which are issued to victims of human trafficking who have complied with reasonable requests for assistance in investigations and prosecutions. Some were underage teenage girls. “As previous investigations have shown, and ‘Operation Safe Haven’ again confirms, the sex trafficking of foreign women in the United States is done by loosely organized criminal networks who have little, if any regard for the women they victimize,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI Atlanta Nick S. Instead, he trained her as a prostitute and sent her with delivery drivers to various cities, where she sometimes performed 25 sex acts a day during the week and 30 sex acts a day on weekends, the indictment says. Busts were made on suspected brothels in Moultrie and Atlanta, Georgia, Orlando and Pensacola, Florida, Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Jackson and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana, Houston, Texas, Birmingham, Alabama and in Nashville, Tennessee.

The victims identities are being protected while medical treatment is provided to them all, and Homeland Security is providing all the basic needs for their health and well-being, in addition to further Visa considerations based upon cooperation with the investigations. “Human sex trafficking is a cancer that we must cut out, and then aggressively fight with all of our resources,” said U.S. Individuals charged with conspiracy to transport a person in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution and individuals charged with promoting prostitution face imprisonment up to five years and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

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