By Bill Parry
Federal authorities smashed an international sex trafficking ring that operated in Corona for more than 16 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.
Four individuals were extradited from Mexico May 3 following an investigation by special agents from Homeland Security Investigations. In all, eight men were arrested on sex trafficking charges on a 23-count indictment, the feds said.
Efrain Grandos-Corona, Emilio Rojas-Romero, Alan Romero-Granadas and Pedro Rojas-Romero were all extradited from Mexico last week. Each faces penalties of 15 years to life in prison, according to prosecutors. The other defendants were awaiting extradition.
Prosecutors said members of the defendants’ suspected sex trafficking organization, which operated as a family business, used false promises, physical and sexual violence, and threats to force and coerce adult and minor women to engage in commercial sex for the organization’s profits in both Mexico and the United States between 2000 and 2016.
The gang operated a multimillion-dollar illegal business, smuggling dozens of women from Tenancingo, Mexico to Corona, according to prosecutors.
“Sex trafficking is a heinous crime that violates both the rule of law and the most basic standards of human dignity,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. “These defendants allegedly deprived women and girls of their freedom, and forced them into prostitution against their will. The scope of devastation these defendants allegedly inflicted on countless victims is beyond comprehension. But know they face significant criminal charges in an American court, and will have to answer for their allegedly reprehensible actions. Our office is dedicated to combatting this demoralizing crime and helping survivors reclaim their lives.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) welcomed the arrests.
“For many years, I have been fighting against sex trafficking, especially along Roosevelt Avenue,” Peralta said. “The sex trade and exploitation is not only a problem in the district but across the nation. Roosevelt Avenue is the epicenter of the sex industry since prostitution has been going on there for decades. Unfortunately, women and minors are brought here with false promises and end up being trafficked and forced into prostitution. I am glad these suspects will face trafficking charges, but we must ensure we help the victims since they have gone through mental and physical torture. Let’s all work together to help eradicate human and sex trafficking.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr