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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
11/01/2016

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ICE HSI investigation leads to arrest of 6 in US, Mexico in international sex trafficking scheme

NEW YORK — Special agents in New York and the Mexican Federal Police in Mexico arrested six people Oct. 27, for sex trafficking-related charges. The arrests follow an extensive multi-year investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Government of Mexico.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) unsealed a 21-count indictment charging six defendants with sex trafficking offenses. These individuals are alleged members of an international sex trafficking organization that exploited and trafficked adult and minor women in Mexico and in the United States from at least 2000 to 2016. Fourteen victims of the charged sex trafficking organization are identified in the indictment.

Over a two-day period, authorities arrested four defendants in Mexico and two in Queens, New York, as part of a coordinated bilateral law enforcement action. The six defendants are Raul Romero-Granados, aka Chicarcas and El Negro, 32; Isaac Lomeli-Rivera, aka Giro, 34; Efrain Granados-Corona, aka Chavito and Cepillo, 41; Alan Romero-Granados, aka El Flaco, 24; Pedro Rojas-Romero, 37; and Emilio Rojas-Romero, 34. Juan Romero-Granados, aka Chegoya and El Guero, remains a fugitive.

“The sexual exploitation of human beings is one of the vilest crimes committed against humanity. This operation reflects our commitment to bring to justice traffickers who have no regard for human life,” said ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña. “Each arrest is a testament to the outstanding bilateral relationship between Mexico and the United States. We are sending a clear message to human traffickers that law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border have them in their sights.”

“Human trafficking is a corrosive and degrading practice that goes against both the rule of law and the most basic standards of human dignity. This indictment is yet another sign of the Justice Department’s steadfast determination to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes, and of our unshakeable commitment to helping survivors reclaim their futures and restart their lives,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “I want to commend our partners in Mexican law enforcement for their commitment to combating human trafficking. We thank them for their cooperation in this important action, and for their ongoing collaboration in our shared efforts to end human trafficking in our nations.”

"Human trafficking is nothing less than a modern form of slavery and no one should be forced to live in a world of fear and involuntary servitude," said Angel Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI New York. "HSI will remain steadfast in its commitment to working with its law enforcement partners to dismantle the international criminal organizations involved in human trafficking."

As alleged in the indictment, members of the sex trafficking organization, which operated largely as a family business, used false promises, physical and sexual violence, and threats to force and coerce adult and minor women to work in prostitution for the organization’s profit in both Mexico and the United States. Once in the United States, the young women and girls shared apartments in New York City and were forced to work weeklong shifts in brothels or were delivered to a customer’s home. The brothels and delivery services are located both within New York, and in surrounding states, including, but not limited to Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Since 2009, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Justice have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative aimed at strengthening high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law. The initiative is aimed at dismantling human trafficking networks operating across the United States-Mexico border, bringing human traffickers to justice, reuniting victims with their children, and restoring the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims held under the trafficking networks’ control. 

These efforts have resulted in successful prosecutions in both Mexico and the United States, including U.S. federal prosecutions of over 50 defendants in multiple cases in New York, Georgia, Florida, and Texas since 2009, and numerous Mexican federal and state prosecutions of associated sex traffickers. In announcing the unsealed charges, Attorney General Lynch commended U.S. and Mexican law enforcement partners for their shared and continued commitment to coordinated bilateral anti-trafficking efforts.

This case is being prosecuted out of the SDNY’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. 

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/07/2016