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Yonkers is a city of about 209,000 residents located along the Hudson River, in Westchester County, New York. It is classified as an inner suburb of New York City, located directly to the north of the Bronx and just two miles north of the northernmost point in Manhattan. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well documented in the city for over 30 years, and have generated numerous ancillary crimes and complaints from residents to police. For example, local sex trafficking cases have also involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state laws). For example, a man was arrested in 2003 on charges of kidnapping and having “deviate sexual intercourse” with a 17-year-old girl in Yonkers. He was ultimately convicted of possessing child porn in the case, public records showed. He also did time in prison for sex abuse in 1992 and for bribery in 2008. In 2020, the same man was arrested in the Bronx after he offered up a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl to the undercover officer for $100 each — or $300 for both. The state Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force and the NYPD’s Human Trafficking Squad launched an investigation, which they dubbed “Operation Mile High” after learning the offender was listed as the CEO of a private aircraft charter company. During the meeting, he showed the officer nude pictures of the girls and called the children on the phone for brief meetings. He was charged with sex trafficking of a child, attempted sex trafficking, endangering the welfare of a child and prostitution. He was ordered held without bail at a Bronx Criminal Court arraignment. In May, 2013, thirteen members of an alleged international sex trafficking ring were taken into custody to face charges for sex trafficking, resulting from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). A criminal complaint charged the defendants with sex trafficking; interstate transportation for prostitution; use of interstate facilities to promote a prostitution enterprise; obstruction of justice; possession of “child pornography;” and illegal reentry after deportation. The group exploited women, some of whom were trafficked from Mexico to New York and forced to engage in prostitution. Between 2008 and 2013 a network of sex traffickers exploited dozens of women, some of whom were trafficked from Mexico to New York and forced to engage in prostitution. Search warrants were executed in six locations as part of a sting, including brothels on Elm Street in Yonkers, Queens, Newburgh, and Poughkeepsie. Arrests were also made as far away as Delaware and Maryland. Members of this alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring lured their victims to the United States and then consigned them to forced commercial sexual exploitation. Prosecutors said the men typically lured the women to New York City from Tenancingo, Mexico with promises of a better life and by engaging them in romantic relationships. Once in the United States, federal officials said the women were forced into prostitution, living in “abhorrent” conditions as they were often beaten, sexually assaulted, and threatened with harm to themselves and family members. In one instance, a woman in Queens was locked outside on a cold winter night, along with her young child, when she refused to engage in prostitution. The women were circulated between the various brothels and forced to give all the money to their traffickers. They were also provided with birth control and in some cases, the trafficker made them take a drug to induce a miscarriage if they were suspected to be pregnant.
In another federal case in June 2014, four co-conspirators agreed to lure a prostituted woman to their apartment for the purpose of forcing her to “work” for them. Using his cellphone, the leader went to Backpage.com, a website where prostituted persons and their pimps and traffickers would post advertisements. He browsed advertisements searching for a target, and eventually decided on the victim, called her, and led her to believe, falsely, that he wanted to hire her for a prostitution “date.” When the victim arrived, the co-conspirators took away the victim’s purse and phone, removed the battery from her phone, and told her that she was there to work as a prostitute for them. The victim asked repeatedly to leave, but was refused and then was raped by each of the four men. They trapped her in the apartment and then made plans to bring the woman out onto the streets of Yonkers to prostitute her for their own benefit. The scheme unraveled when two Yonkers police officers arrived at the apartment after receiving a tip from individuals who had been searching for the victim. The officers demanded to speak with her, immediately determined that she was being held against her will, brought her to safety, and arrested the rapists/traffickers.
Among the tactics used in Yonkers to prevent such sex trafficking and other crimes are those focusing on consumer level demand. For example, in December 2012 a sex buyer at an Elm Street brothel was arrested along with the admitted doorman who told police he collected $30 from each man in return for a playing card that was then exchanged for 15 minutes of sex.
- Yonkers Police Department
- U.S. District Court in Manhattan
Arrest of Sex Buyers:
- https://dailyvoice.com/feds-prostitution-sex-trafficking-ring-operated-yonkers-brothel (2013)
- https://www.nydailynews.com/nyc-sex-offender-busted-sex-trafficking-children (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.nytimes.com/some-ex-prostitutes-are-helping-those-left-behind (1992)
- https://westchester.news12.com/two-yonkers-women-busted-on-prostitution-charges-in-local-salon (2005)
- https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/sex-trafficking-ring-arrests-mexico-new-york-brothels-raided-queens-yonkers (2013)
- https://www.providencejournal.com/article/ (2014)
- https://www.justice.gov/yonkers-man-convicted-white-plains-federal-court-kidnapping-and-sex-trafficking-19-year (2015)
- https://therealdeal.com/proposed-hotel-in-yonkers-wouldnt-become-a-prostitution-den-owner-says/ (2018)
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