Smuggled And Exploited Women From Mexico
The former operator of brothels in Ridgewood and upstate New York is spending the rest of his life behind bars for smuggling Mexican women into the U.S. and forcing them into prostitution, prosecutors stated last Wednesday, May 14.
Isaias Flores-Mendez, 42, of Queens was ordered by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest to a life sentence in prison and to forfeit $1.7 million in illegal proceeds. Additionally, the judge mandated that he pay $84,000 in restitution to one of the victims.
Federal law enforcement sources said Flores-Mendez led a longrunning sex trafficking operation that brought a number of young women from Mexico to New York. Through a combination of coercion, force and threats of violence, the women were forced to sell themselves for sex at the brothels he owned, one of which was located on Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood.
Federal agents collared him and other suspects in April 2013 during raids at the Seneca Avenue brothel and upstate cathouses.
“[Flores-Mendez] viciously robbed the victims in this case of their freedom, their eligibility and their fundamental human rights,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. “Although the victims of the defendant’s crimes will never be made whole, his prosecution and today’s sentence hopefully signal to them and everyone else that such atrocities cannot be tolerated in our society and will be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.”
Prosecutors believe Flores- Mendez carried out the scheme as early as 1999, when he was first arrested for promoting prostitution.
In one instance, federal agents stated, he lured a young woman and her child from Mexico, romancing her and promising her a better life in the U.S.
But upon arriving in New York, authorities said, Flores-Mendez forced the victim and her child to live in squalid conditions, including sleeping on a floor. He then forced the woman into working as a prostitute-and physically and verbally abused her whenever she resisted.
At one point, prosecutors said, Flores-Mendez intentionally locked the victim and her child out of their residence on a particularly cold winter evening. Fearing that her child would die from the cold, it was reported, the victim agreed to continue working for him.
Eventually, authorities noted, the victim managed to escape, but Flores-Mendez and his brother- Bonifacio Flores-Mendez, who participated in the sex trafficking ring-continued to harass her, going as far as to try and run her over with a car.
As previously reported, the victims each earned between $30 and $35 per client for 15 minutes of sex, servicing as many as 20 men per day. Almost all of the proceeds went to Flores-Mendez and 17 others connected to the sex trafficking and prostitution ring.
The ring reportedly employed drivers who shuttled the prostitutes between brothels located in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware; in some instances, the drivers brought the victims directly to customers’ homes.
Women whom the ring’s operators believed were pregnant were also forced to take medicine (cytotec, which is used to treat ulcers) known to cause miscarriages, authorities added.
Bonifacio Flores-Mendez and 16 others connected to the sex trafficking and sales operation have previously pled guilty to charges. Reportedly, all but four have been sentenced to a combination of prison time and forfeiture of assets.
Bharara thanked the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations for its investigative work.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Kramer and Rebecca Mermelstein of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Violent and Organized Crime Unit prosecuted the cases.
In a separate case, another convicted pimp who operated in Queens-Mexican national Samuel Granados-Hernandez, 33-was sentenced last Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to serve 15 years in federal prison and five years of supervised release.
According to U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch, Granados- Hernandez smuggled three Mexican women into the U.S. and forced them into a life of prostitution, pocketing whatever proceeds they made.
As in the Isaias Flores-Mendez case, he used violence and threats of violence to force the victims to work for him.
In one instance, he choked and hit a prostitute and, upon learning she was pregnant, forced her into having an abortion.
“This defendant took advantage of young women who were seeking a better life, tricking them into trusting him and then forcing them into sexual slavery,” Lynch said. “This sentence sends a message to wouldbe traffickers that we will not tolerate trafficking of women and girls, and we stand firm in our commitment to eradicate human trafficking.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Soumya Dayanada prosecuted the Granados- Hernandez case.