July 9, 2008
ATLANTA — Five men are charged with luring women from Mexico to Metro Atlanta and then forcing them into prostitution.
The female victims were as young as 14-years old. They expected a better life in America only to learn when they got here that they were sex slaves.
Five men, all of them illegal citizens, appeared before Federal Magistrate Judge Janet King Monday morning. They are accused of trafficking the women from Mexico to Metro Atlanta.
An indictment says three of the men — 31-year old Juan Cortez-Meza, 34-year old Amador Cortez-Meza and 25-year old Francisco Cortez-Meza — travelled to Mexico to seduce and befriend the females with promises of a better life in America.
“Once they started dating them in Mexico they would get them to come to the US promising them jobs in restaurants or cleaning houses and then when they got here they were forced into prostitution,” said Assistant United States Attorney Susan Coppedge.
At least ten women, four of them under the age of 18, were trapped in suburban homes in Norcross and Cartersville, forced to be prostitutes under a threat of deportation.
The indictment says “The victims were beaten, threatened, or their families back in Mexico were threatened in order to force the victims to work as prostitutes against their will.”
The indictment also alleges that 69-year old Rosa Tort and 21-year old Raul Cortez-Meza drove the women from the homes to various places where men or “johns” were willing to pay for sex with them.
“Some of the victims have told us, as alleged in the indictment, that they had serviced between 20 and 30 men a night,” said Assistant US Attorney Coppedge.
Neighbors at one of the homes on Charmaine Bend in Norcross say it was obvious what the women were doing.
“Because there were lots of girls and there were just two men,” said neighbor Vianey Trejo. “There was one weekend where there were five cars lined up and each girl went in one car.”
But Trejo says it was not obvious the women were held against their will.
Residents reported the suspicious activity to police. Law enforcement agencies in Bartow and Gwinnett Counties began investigating the homes.
“Local law enforcement saw this activity in their community and conducted surveillance of the men taking the women to various houses for prostitution,” Coppedge said.
Because of the human trafficking, Special Agents of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were called in to investigate.
At least ten female victims are being treated and housed in half-way homes.
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