NEWS: Slavery and prostitution ring alleged (USA)

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Jyothi Kanics (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Mon, 27 Apr 1998 06:15:00 -0700 (PDT)


*Please note comments to this news story at the end of the message*

Slavery and prostitution ring alleged

April 24, 1998

BY JIM LONG
Reuters

MIAMI -- A federal grand jury indicted 16 people Thursday for allegedly
running a slavery ring that lured Mexican women to the United States and
forced them to work as prostitutes catering to migrant workers.

The 52-count indictment, handed down in Ft. Pierce, Florida, alleges that
six members of a Mexican family and 10 others smuggled Mexican women
between the ages of 14 and 40 into the U.S. with promises of legitimate
jobs. They were put to work as prostitutes in Florida and South Carolina.

"These men lured these women into the United States, and they did it with
promises that they would arrive in a land of opportunity," Miami U.S.
Attorney Tom Scott said at a news conference. "Instead they received a
one-way ticket to a life of forced sex."

The indictment alleged the ring put at least 20 women to work in brothels
in Orlando, Tampa, Avon Park, Ft. Myers, Haines City, Lake Worth, Ocoee,
Okeechobee and Zolfo Springs in Florida, and Lake City and John's Island in
South Carolina.

The brothels were operated by "ticketeros" who collected fees and sold
"tickets," usually in the form of condoms, which were exchanged for sex,
officials said. The charge was usually $20, of which the woman received $3.

The women were forced to work as prostitutes until they had paid debts of
up to $2,000 for being smuggled into the country, according to officials,
who also said the brothel operators used violence to keep them in line.

The allegations span a period between August 1996 and February 1998.

"These women were beaten, these women were raped, these women were
threatened with violence if they left or failed to perform the acts
required," Scott said.

Bill Lann Lee, acting U.S. assistant attorney general for civil rights,
called the case "shocking and unconscionable."

Lee said the ring preyed on the "most vulnerable" -- women who needed money
to care for themselves and their families. They were subjected to physical
and sexual assaults and one woman who tried to escape a brothel was locked
in a closet for 15 days, he said.

As the indictments were announced in Miami, U.S. Attorney General Janet
Reno announced in Washington that the U.S. was creating a task force to
better prosecute worker exploitation and slavery cases.

Justice Department officials said most exploitation cases uncovered
involved legal or illegal immigrants.

Those indicted Thursday included six members of the Cadena family of
Veracruz, Mexico -- Rogerio Cadena; Carmen Cadena; brothers Abel Cadena
Sosa, Rafael Alberto Cadena Sosa, Hugo Cadena Sosa and Juan Luis Cadena
Sosa; and their mother, Antonia Sosa, along with nine other Mexican
nationals.

Authorities said eight of the 16 were in custody, including Rogerio Cadena.
 
Article ends.

Our Comment ;

We would be interested to know if the women involved will be deported ? or
will they be allowed to remain in the USA on Humanitarian grounds ?

It is a great shame that the women have no right to remain in the USA.
Returning them to Mexico will just return them to the poverty that created
their vulnerability.

If consenting sex workers could be recruited openly and allowed to have
migrant worker status, it would greatly undermine the need for recruitment
by deceit.

Recognition for consenting sex workers would also allow greater openness
and engagement with sex workers, this in turn would make coercion more
difficult to sustain.

Salamon Alapitvany


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