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October 19, 2018New York, NY, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

2 brothers extradited to the US from Mexico to face sex trafficking charges

NEW YORK — Two men were extradited to the United States Thursday to faces charges for their role in a transnational sex trafficking ring. This following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New York with assistance from the HSI Mexico City Attaché office and the Mexican Federal Police.

Jose Osvaldo Melendez-Rojas and Rosalio Melendez-Rojas were arrested in February 2018 in Mexico to eventually face various charges in the United States, including sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking of minors, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and related offenses. The defendants who were extradited are charged together with three co-defendants, who were arrested in the United States in July 2017.

“These brothers were flown thousands of miles to faces charges for their role in the ‘family business’ of exploiting and trafficking young women purely for profit, using intimidation and abuse to force their victims to participate in sexual acts against their will,” said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge for HSI New York. “The number of times women are were victimized to support their criminal empire is reprehensible.  The safety and well-being of the victim comes first and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in ensuring these criminal organizations cease to victimize for revenue.”

“With this successful extradition, this office and our law enforcement partners have again demonstrated our resolve to prosecute the Melendez-Rojas sex trafficking network and those who would profit from the forced sexual servitude of vulnerable women and girls,” stated United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue.

As set forth in court papers and alleged in a second superseding indictment, between 2006 and July 2017, Jose Osvaldo Melendez-Rojas and his brother Rosalio Melendez-Rojas, together with other relatives, illegally smuggled young women and girls from Mexico into the United States, where they were forced to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere in the United States. The victims of this sex trafficking organization are identified in the second Superseding Indictment as Jane Does #1 through 6. The defendants are also charged with conspiring to launder money in connection with the illicit proceeds of their sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise.

This case was investigated by the HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit (TIPU) which is comprised of senior criminal investigators, intelligence officers and victim assistance specialists who aid in the rescue of trafficking victims and prosecution of traffickers and trafficking organizations. TIPU investigators focus on the exploitation of victims by force, fraud or coercion regardless of the person’s manor or entry into the United States. All TIPU investigations are victim-centered, seeking to rescue and protect the victims of trafficking.

Special thanks to the New York City Police Department (NYPD), the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the State Department, and Interpol for their assistance, and the government of Mexico for its role in advancing bilateral anti-trafficking enforcement efforts.

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of the sex trafficking related charges, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison. The government’s case is being handled by the EDNY’s Civil Rights Unit.

ROSALIO MELENDEZ-ROJAS (also known as “Leonel, “Wacho” and “El Guacho”)37Mexico
Defendants Previously Arrested
FRANCISCO MELENDEZ-PEREZ (also known as “Paco” and “el Mojarra”)unknownMexico
ABEL ROMERO-MELENDEZ (also known as “La Borrega” and “Borrego”)unknownMexico

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-434 (ARR)


Updated: 11/19/2020