Federal agents raided four brothels in New York and arrested 13 people in an alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring dating back to 2008, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the suspects exploited dozens of women, trafficking some from Mexico to New York, to force them to work as sex slaves.
NBC 4 New York cameras captured the raid on one of the brothels in Yonkers Tuesday. Search warrants were also executed at brothels in Queens, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh.
The criminal complaint alleges the suspects lured women to the U.S. by engaging them in romantic relationships and promising a better life in New York. Once they arrived, the victims were forced to work as prostitutes under "abhorrent conditions," often subjected to abuse and threatened with harm to them and their family members.
In a typical day, a Mexican sex trafficking victim in New York had sexual intercourse with 20 to 30 customers, with each customer usually paying about $30 to $35 for 15 minutes of sex, according to authorities.
Of that money, half typically went to either the driver who took the victim to the client or to the residential brothel where the woman worked. The other half went to the victim, who was then typically forced to turn over all the money to the trafficker.
The suspects charged Tuesday had different roles in the sex trafficking ring, from operating brothels, driving victims to clients or brothels, and dispatching drivers, to recruiting and overseeing the women forced to work as prostitutes, according to the complaint.
Two of the 13 suspects were already in federal custody on illegal reentry charges; another was arrested in Delaware. The rest were arrested in New York and appeared in the Manhattan federal court Tuesday afternoon.