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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
01/13/2010

4 illegal aliens indicted for running prostitution ring

50 others found to be in U.S. illegally during investigation and placed into removal proceedings

PHILADELPHIA - Four men were charged in federal court on Jan. 11 for a conspiracy to run a prostitution ring in the city. As a result of an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Jose Claudio Corona Cotonieto, 27; Raymond Gonzalez Salazar, 31, Nicolas Gonzalez Salazar, 22, and defendant FNU LNU #4, a/k/a "Leonel Rubio," were charged with conspiracy to run a prostitution ring in various locations around South Philadelphia.

According to court records, between August 2009 and January 2010, the defendants operated brothels out of residential locations, including 1221 A South 7th St. and 1314 South 6th St. Defendants Cotonieto and Raymond Salazar would arrange for and schedule Hispanic females to travel from New York City to Philadelphia on a Greyhound bus. Once the girls arrived in the city, the defendants would take them to one of the brothel locations to work for a week and returned to the bus terminal where they departed the city.

These two defendants not only controlled the brothels and provided "in house" services, but also ran a "delivery" service, where the prostitutes were "delivered" to the customers. Nicholas Salazar handled customer calls for the delivery of the women and transported them to the customers who wanted a prostitute delivered. Rubio was a doorman who controlled access and guarded the brothel.

Court documents further allege that Cotonieto and Raymond Salazar tracked the number of customers serviced by the prostitutes by using tickets or punch cards. Approximately 60 to 70 different females worked for the defendants between Aug. 2009 and Jan. 2010, generating approximately $9,000 per week in proceeds for the ring.

Each defendant is charged with: conspiracy, and seven counts of violating the Mann Act (which makes it a federal crime to induce or persuade individuals to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution), defendants Jose Claudio Corona Cotonieto and Raymond Gonzalez Salazar are additionally charged with seven counts of Interstate Transportation in Aid of Racketeering.

If convicted of all charges, defendants Cotonieto and Raymond Salazar each face a maximum possible sentence of 180 years in prison; defendants Nicolas Salazar and Rubio each face a maximum possible sentence of 145 years in prison.

As part of the ongoing criminal investigation and in addition to the criminal arrests, ICE special agents identified and administratively arrested 50 individuals believed to be in the U.S. illegally. Those arrested include 39 males from Mexico, nine males from Honduras, and two females from Mexico. Those administratively arrested will be placed into removal proceedings and their cases will be adjudicated in immigration court. The judicious use of administrative arrest authority utilized during the course of conducting criminal investigations is a powerful tool that ICE maximizes to fight transnational criminal organizations.

Assisting ICE in this case were the Pennsylvania State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Suzanne Ercole.