Skip to comments.Three charged in sex-ring operation on Eastern Shore (Illegal Aliens)
Posted on 06/03/2006 5:59:32 PM PDT by wagglebee
|Agents conducted raids at four Accomack County sites, including this house on Beartown Road in Mappsville, allegedly used as a brothel. l. todd spencer / The virginian-pilot
MAPPSVILLE - Federal authorities allege they have uncovered a sex-trafficking operation in which prostitutes were transported from New York City to service Hispanic customers at a brothel in this rural Eastern Shore community.
The purported ringleader is a restaurant operator and trailer-park landlord who also forced female tenants to turn tricks when they couldn't pay rent, and who reportedly stabbed a prostitute after a disagreement, according to documents unsealed in federal court on Thursday .
The case is the latest in a growing number of investigations nationwide of sex trafficking involving Hispanic women, some of whom are forced into prostitution after entering the United States illegally.
In the Eastern Shore case, three people have been arrested so far. One of them is Manuela Ferreiras, the common-law wife of Miguel Medina, identified in search warrant affidavits as the mastermind of the operation. Medina is being held for alleged immigration violations but has not been criminally charged.
Medina and Ferreiras - who was convicted of prostitution in New York in 1994 - have operated a string of brothels on the Eastern Shore since moving to Virginia from New York in 1997, an informant told federal authorities.
Law enforcement agents conducted raids May 20 at four locations in Accomack County, one a dilapidated house on Beartown Road in Mappsville that was allegedly used as a brothel. The investigation - involving the FBI, immigration officials and State Police - began in the fall of 2004.
The prostitutes were driven from New York to the Eastern Shore each week on Wednesday night or Thursday and taken back to New York on Sunday night, according to court papers.
Federal agents secretly videotaped activity and conducted surveillance at the Beartown Road house, where weekend business was brisk, according to court documents and testimony in Norfolk federal court last week.
Customers paid $30 for 15 minutes with a woman, buying tickets from guards at the back door of the house. The tickets were eventually presented to the women, who used tiny bedrooms with bare mattresses and boarded windows.
One informant told federal agents that in May or June of last year, the operation offered a weekend "special," featuring only 18- and 19-year-olds.
An undercover operative who bought a ticket and entered the house said four or five Hispanic men were standing in line inside the house, and there were several more people in the living room, according to the court papers.
While the undercover agent stood in line, "An Hispanic male exited the room while pulling up his pants. The Hispanic male customer was followed by an Hispanic female, wearing a black lingerie outfit."
The next customer was then called, ticket in hand.
The search warrants and testimony did not disclose whether the prostitution ring involves elements of human trafficking, in which women may be forced to engage in sex acts against their will.
Jennifer V. Collins, the lead FBI agent in the case, testified last week that there were conflicting opinions among those involved in the operation of the brothel about whether the women were free to leave when they were on the Eastern Shore, or whether they were under Medina's control.
She said Medina denied they were being held by force.
One of the crimes cited by agents in their application for search warrants was "offenses involving the coercion and enticement of an individual to travel interstate for the purpose of prostitution."
The frequency of human trafficking cases involving prostitut ion in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years. In many cases, the women are Hispanic , said Cecilia Cardesa-Lusardi, executive director of Voices Without Borders, a Wilmington, Del., Latino advocacy organization.
A woman seeking illicit passage into the United States often deals with a smuggler, or "coyote," Cardesa-Lusardi said.
"They will sometimes tell a woman, 'My son has a restaurant where you can work and he can get you room and board,' " she said. "But when they get here, they find out there's no restaurant at all."
They often end up living in squalid conditions and working for peonage - turning tricks in order to pay debts.
Recent prosecutions in Maryland, Delaware, Texas and Florida involved cases in which Hispanic women serviced Latino men. The Eastern Shore's year-round Hispanic population is about 3,000, a number that swells to 7,000 or more when seasonal migrant laborers arrive in midsummer.
In addition to Ferreiras, two men were arrested during the May 20 raid, one of them identified as Gustavo Ocasio Lopez, who allegedly served as a guard at the brothel and helped transport the women to and from New York. A criminal complaint listed three aliases for Lopez.
The third person arrested was identified as Antonio Quintero, also known as "Jesse Ruiz" and "Tonio." He testified that he worked at the Eastern Shore Yacht & Country Club as a golf course landscaper. He also was employed by Medina, transporting prostitutes locally, according to court documents.
Quintero wore an orange jumpsuit and tan sandals when he appeared in U.S. District Court last week. Magistrate Judge Tommy E. Miller, noting the defendant's various aliases, refused a motion to release him on bond, "if for no other reason than we don't know who he is."
Ferreiras and Quintero are being held on charges related to falsifying immigration documents; Lopez is being held on a charge of conspiracy to engage in the interstate transportation of prostitutes.
Medina, portrayed as the architect of the Eastern Shore operation, was identified in affidavits as the operator of the Plaza Garibaldi Restaurant & Store on U.S. 13 in Parksley, five miles south of Mappsville.
A woman who answered the phone at the restaurant Thursday night said it was closed. She said she did not know when it would reopen.
Medina and Ferreiras own several trailers at the Triangle Trailer Park in Mappsville, according to court papers.
"When the single women are unable to pay rent, Miguel Medina has forced them to work as prostitutes to pay the rent," an unidentified source is quoted telling federal investigators.
In 2002 or 2003, Medina had a disagreement with one of his prostitutes, identified as Irma Ortiz, who he said was not complying with orders, according to court papers. Medina then stabbed her with a knife, the source said.
When Ortiz received medical treatment, she could not explain what had happened, the source told federal agents, "because she does not speak English and her interpreter was another one of Miguel Medina's employees."
The source said that since 1997, the couple has operated brothels at the Triangle Trailer Park, Johnson Trailer Park in Nelsonia and a trailer on Winterville Road in Bloxom.
Medina and Ferreiras were living at an undisclosed residence in Bloxom when the May 20 raid took place.
One of the residences raided was a two-story house in Bloxom, but the address and occupants' names were blacked out in court papers. Items seized there included financial records, rolls of tickets and more than $5,000 in cash.
The raid, targeting four residences and six vehicles, also yielded notebooks, checks, cell phones, condoms, driver's licenses, containers of air freshener, tax documents, a revolver, ammunition, address books and identification documents.
Carlos Lopez, 24, on Friday recalled the raid last month at the Triangle Trailer Park. Agents swept in during early morning and arrested several men who lived in a cream-colored trailer on Williams Street.
Lopez, who lives in a nearby trailer with his wife and son, said he had met the men who live there when he was traveling through Mexico on his way to the United States from his native Honduras. He recalled how they took him in.
Lopez said he has lived in the trailer park for nearly two years, that Medina is his landlord, and that he pays the $400 rent each month at Plaza Garibaldi.
Lopez, who works at a nearby chicken processing plant, said he was skeptical of reports that women in the trailer park were forced to become prostitutes.
Lopez's sister, Yesenia Villanueva, 30, said she used to clean the Bloxom house where Medina and Ferreiras live and care for their child, earning $200 a week.
Not far from the trailer park, the house identified as a brothel sat abandoned on Friday, its front and back doors ajar, pale green paint peeling from the siding. It is flanked by a small church and a rusting trailer .
Behind the house is a parking area, paved with white seashells and littered with Miller Light, Corona and Dos Equis beer bottles.
Tammy White, 40, who lives on Beartown Road near the house, said it is common knowledge that prostitutes work the area, walking up and down the street.
"They prostitute right on this road, and these people pick them up, do what they have to do, and then drop them back," she said.
White said a relative was once paid to recruit Mexican and white women to work at the brothel, with the instruction that "they have to be small and have a nice shape."
White's daughter Camesha, 20, predicted that the law won't be able to drive the world's oldest profession away from Beartown Road for good.
"It's going to come back," she said. "If it doesn't come back here, it will be at the trailer park. Don't nobody pay this road no attention."
What are you? A racist like Ann Coulter?
I guess it would have...but that still doesn't mean I want a guest worker program.
Just doin' the whores Americans won't do. I'm sure that these were fine upstanding people who paid their taxes.
Criminal Number 18F
Well, the picture sure seemed to show a fine, upstanding whorehouse.
Guess if you get Virginia Food Stamps,welfare, plus the aforementioned $200 a week (probably cash), and live 40 to a roof, you can afford these high dollar beers. ML may be not that out of line, but Corona and Two X? Over my budget. Too busy paying taxes.
Family values don't stop at the border -George Bush
Not much has changed in 2000 years.
Man's heart has not changed. Greed and avarice are still operating...alive and well.Very sad.
Who knows, maybe the $30 whores come with free beer.
Why stop there...make them citizens so that the can collect welfare while living in public housing waiting for their earned income refund check. Still turning tricks of course.
Just matching willing workers with willing employers.
But having seen casas de putas south of the border, I have a pretty clear idea exactly what they're importing.
Even in the down and out rural stretches of the Delmarva Peninsula and Eastern Shore, this is not what you want in your neighbourhood.
Criminal Number 18F
How 'bout the scary part?
All Potential Democrats -- to a man (or a peck**.)
Parts of the Eastern Shore are a lot like a Third World country. A few very wealthy people, a bunch of people in total poverty and no middle class to speak of. It's starting to change, but there's still a long way to go.
This story gives the appearance that the Feds may have stumbled into doing the job that they are paid and expected to do. But the significant story about illegals is not about getting caught, it is what happens to them when they get caught. Everything that I read tells me that when illegals get processed in our court system they usually get a mulligan.
Just for general info, Perdue is the name in that neck of the woods.
... and a sack over their heads.
Tyson also has a plant there.
Human sex trafficking. Finally, I have been presented with a job most Americans wont do. Im not sure thats what GW had in mind though.
Well, the medical profession can start bracing themselves for more STD infections. Of course, the taxpayers will pay to clean it up.
I could not imagine a more horrible way to keep a roof over one's head :(
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