Human Rights and Civil Society · Justice in Mexico

19 Arrested for Connection to a Latin American Smuggling Ring

05/05/11— The Associated Press reported that nineteen people have been arrested in connection to a prostitution smuggling ring that trafficked women from Latin American into the United States to work in brothels. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Michael Langeman noted that it is believed that most of the victims were women, none of which were minors, from Central America and Mexico.

According to the FBI, the prostitution ring is headed principally by brothers Jose Louis Hernández-Castilla, Norberto Hernández-Castilla, and Gregorio Hernández-Castilla. It operated in Hispanic communities primarily in the Midwest of the United States and, according to U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett, it promoted its services through business cards that advertised for auto repair and western wear outfitters. Only people in the community knew that the cards were used to make appointments with the prostitutes, which usually ran about $40 to $50 dollars per session. The organization also owned numerous houses within the states of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio that were operated by 7 men tied to the ring and only allowed Hispanic clients.

The Hernández-Castilla brothers allegedly used their weapons, violence, and money to incite a fear within the women who they had smuggled across the border. According to the Associated Press, they often told the women that they needed to pay off the money that was used to smuggle them across the border. It has not yet been proven that any of the women were held against their will.

The prostitution ring was first investigated after Crime Stoppers received an anonymous tip. U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett believes the ring could have been operating for about 10 years.


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