Officials say they have cracked an international ring operating in New Jersey that brought women from Mexico and Latin American countries into the U.S. illegally to work as prostitutes, and some of them were forced to meet up to 40 johns a day for barely any pay.
The ring was part of a network of brothels in New York and surrounding states that paid people to smuggle the women, often under the guise that they would work as house cleaners or babysitters, officials said.
Prosecutors allege 38-year-old Jose Romero-Flores of Lakewood operated several brothels in the Ocean County town and ran others in the multi-state network. Several dozen women are believed to have worked in the brothels he allegedly ran, though a smaller number worked for him at any given time.
Prosecutors say Romero-Flores allegedly ordered the women to work for him to meet quotas, requiring them to work six days a week and meet more than three dozen johns a day. The women were paid $30 per encounter, prosecutors said.
Romero-Flores allegedly transported the women to his brothels from residences in Queens and Union City, N.J.
He faces charges of human trafficking, promoting organized street crime and promoting prostitution. He's being held on $1 million bail.
His girlfriend is accused of assisting him in the operation of the brothels and four men are charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says the arrests are the first under a new state law that carries tougher penalties for human trafficking.
Attorney information for Romero-Flores and his girlfriend were not immediately available.