5B/12 Latino Brothels


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5B/12 Latino Brothels

  1. 1. Latino Residential Brothels and Related Sex Trafficking Networks At-a-GlanceThe following document provides general information about sex trafficking networks in the United States that victimize primarily Latina womenand children. These networks include Latino Residential Brothels, Escort “Delivery” Services, and Latino Hostess Clubs/“Cantina Bars”.The goal of the document is to share information about the common operations of these distinct criminal networks as a tool for service providers,law enforcement, and the general public. The document is intended to provide a basic understanding of these networks and should not be viewed asexhaustive.An Overview of Latino Residential Brothels Residential brothels are typically informal, cash-based underground businesses which operate in residentialand non-commercial areas. Common venues include: homes, town homes, condos, apartments, andtrailers. Typically, residential brothels maintain a flexible and mobile status. The majority of Latinoresidential brothels tend to be “closed networks,” restricted for Latino men only. These brothel networks frequently do not advertise through formal venues such as online or through paidadvertising in newspapers, magazines, or the Yellow Pages. Instead, they get the word out through the low-cost printing and distribution of business cards (a.k.a., “tarjetas”) and through word of mouth. These networks are present throughout the United States in urban, suburban, and rural areas.The Victims The victims present within these networks are almost always women and children from Latin America andare recruited through a variety of means. Women living in poverty and those with hopes for a better life are purposefully targeted with falsepromises or rosy descriptions of life in America. Very rarely is a complete, honest, and thoroughdescription of the awaiting “job” in America ever provided. Often women believe that they are coming toAmerica to live with their “boyfriend” or husband only to be forced to prostitute upon arrival. In other cases, Latina women already living in the United States are targeted through print advertisements,informal communications, or word of mouth. Promises of “quick money” are common. The individuals providing commercial sex within these brothel networks are in a situation where they havecommercial sex with high volumes of men per day. With typical business hours often spanning a 12 hourday, the women in these locations may have sex with more than 20, 30, or even 40 men per day. Women typically live and sleep at the brothel location and often do not leave the premises while located ina specific residence. Then, the women are rotated to a new location every 1-2 weeks.This publication was made possible in part through Grant Number 90ZV0087 from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Office of RefugeeResettlement, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do notnecessarily represent the official views of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Office of Refugee Resettlement, or HHS.Polaris Project | National Human Trafficking Resource Center | 1-888-3737-888 | NHTRC@PolarisProject.orgwww.PolarisProject.org © Copyright Polaris Project, 2011. All Rights Reserved
  2. 2. Latino Residential Brothels At-A-Glance | Polaris ProjectThe Traffickers Latino Residential Brothels depend on multiple individuals playing diverse roles, such as owner, recruiter,transporter, look-out, and various other functions responsible for the day-to-day operations of the network. These criminal networks are believed to be decentralized and loose-knit organized criminal groups that donot have one single centralized national structure. This structure enables flexibility and adaptability tochanging market conditions. Based on known linkages between Latin America and the U.S., the traffickers in these networks are capableof functioning in a transnational environment. Almost without exception, commercial sex acts within these networks are priced at $30 USD for 15minutes of commercial sex. Based on the common pricing structures, average brothel size, and average customer volume, the brothelmay make on average $5,250 a week per woman or child.An Overview of Escort Delivery Services: An escort “delivery” service model is closely related to the residential brothel model. In the “outcall” orescort service model, the women are “delivered” to a john’s house, apartment, or hotel room, instead of thejohns going to a single, centralized location. Some networks may have both residential brothels and escortservices operating in tandem, whereas other networks may only focus on model or the other. In many cases, the controllers and women involved in the network may overlap between these twodifferent modes of operating.An Overview of Hostess Clubs or “Cantinas”: Latino hostess bar/“cantinas” are another location where severe forms of trafficking in persons have beendiscovered. While the previous two models are essentially an underground informal cash-rich criminalbusiness, a hostess car/“cantina” registers and operates as a legitimate business. Hostess bars/“cantinas” frequently sell food and drink, may be open to the public, have dancing andmusic, and function fairly similarly to what appears to be a regular sports bar, catering to primarily malecustomer base. However, in hostess bars/”cantinas,” there may be forced labor present if the female hostesses are forcedto sell beers and may face threats or violence if they do not meet certain daily quotas of alcohol sales. Sex trafficking may also be present in these locations if there is a residential brothel attached to the“cantina,” or if the “cantina” serves as a common meeting point where customers come to solicit womenin prostitution.Detection - Identifying the Presence of These Networks in a CommunityThe following patterns might indicate the presence of a residential brothel in a given community: Noticing a residential location with an unusually high volume of males going in and out (either front dooror back entrance) in a given day. Being given or finding a “tarjeta” advertising a brothel network or escort service. If a community resident suspects that a sex trafficking network or potential criminal activity is occurring inhis or her neighborhood, he or she should call the police or contact the National Human TraffickingResource Center Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 to discuss his or her concerns.Vulnerabilities of Victims in Latino Residential BrothelsPolaris Project | National Human Trafficking Resource Center | 1-888-3737-888 | NHTRC@PolarisProject.orgwww.PolarisProject.org © Copyright Polaris Project, 2011. All Rights Reserved
  3. 3. Latino Residential Brothels At-A-Glance | Polaris Project Frequently, the women within these networks are undocumented. They may have come here on alegitimate visa, a false visa provided to them by the network, or they may have been smuggled across aborder into the United States. In many cases, the women do not have access to their passport or traveldocuments, further increasing their vulnerability. With illegal status, the women frequently fear and distrustlaw enforcement or government authorities. The networks can play off of this vulnerability with threats ofreporting the women to law enforcement. A common pattern is that the women often have some sort of economic or financial hardship as a form ofvulnerability, and the brothel network takes advantage of this vulnerability and exploits the woman’sgenuine desire and feeling of obligation to make money. Women within the networks may have familymembers in their home country that they are responsible for monetarily, or they may have children in theirhome country that they are financially supporting. Typically, women are not aware of or familiar with their external surroundings because they are made tolive and sleep at the brothel location 24 hours a day and are not allowed to leave unless they are beingtransported to a new brothel location.Select Federal Laws Relevant to Latino Residential Brothel Trafficking NetworksThe Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 was the first comprehensive federal act to combat humantrafficking in the US. Actions taken by these networks may constitute “severe forms of trafficking in persons” andmay be considered labor trafficking and/or sex trafficking.oLabor trafficking is defined as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining ofa person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection toinvoluntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”1oSex trafficking is defined as “a commercial sex act [that] is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or inwhich the person induced to perform such an act has not yet attained 18 years of age.”2Operational Characteristics and Vulnerabilities to Human TraffickingVarious operational characteristics of Latino Residential Brothels which may constitute sex trafficking include: Recruitment – Women are recruited and targeted for purposeful recruitment into the networks andoften times did not seek out the brothel networks of their own initiative. Fraud – Women may be lied to about the nature of what they are there for and are lied to or not fullyinformed about the payment structure present within the brothel. Explicit Commands – Women are told by a brothel manager “You cannot leave” or “You mustplease the customer.” The priority is given to the customer’s desires and not to the woman’spreferences. Causing Serious Harm – Women experience physical assault or sexual assault from brothel operatorsand customers. Threats of Serious Harm – Women and their children or family members in their home countriesmay be threatened with death. Guns, knives, or weapons may be present within the brothels to have a“chilling effect” of intimidation on the women. Control of Movement - Women are moved to their next location through transporters and do nothave independent freedom of movement.122 U.S.C. § 7102.2ibidPolaris Project | National Human Trafficking Resource Center | 1-888-3737-888 | NHTRC@PolarisProject.orgwww.PolarisProject.org © Copyright Polaris Project, 2011. All Rights Reserved
  4. 4. Latino Residential Brothels At-A-Glance | Polaris Project Debt Bondage – Especially if the woman has an initial smuggling debt or some other form of debt,the women often face debt bondage. Revenues made from commercial sex acts are applied to pay offtheir debt. Abuse of Legal Process – Brothel operators may threaten that police will be called if the women donot provide commercial sex or if they leave the premises. It is either implied or directly stated that thewomen may be arrested or deported. Sleep Deprivation and Extreme Hours – Women experience long works hours and very highvolumes of commercial sex acts, which reduce resistance to other factors of control. Victimizing Minors - In addition to adult women, residential brothels may intentionally recruit andexploit girls under the age of 18.Recent Cases of Latino Residential Brothels 2009, US v. Carlos Andres Monsalve (Florida): In May 2007, law enforcement from the Clearwater PoliceDepartment identified six potential victims from a residential brothel. One of the potential victims hadbeen brought to the house in Jacksonville, FL via Houston and Tampa, where she learned that her debt hadincreased from $5,000 to $30,000 and that she had to pay the debt back by performing commercial sex.Task force investigators found that this ring was part of a larger, international network. The commercial sexwas advertised through cards handed out to men in the local community. The women charged $30 a sexact, and each woman brought in approximately $6,000 a week and engaged in up to 25 sex acts a day. Oneof the heads of the ring, Carlos Andres Monsalve, was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.3 2007, US v. Andres-Perfecto & US v. Mendez (Tennessee): Twelve people were charged for their role in atrafficking operation that used force, fraud and coercion to compel a 13 year old girl and an adult womanto engage in commercial sex acts. They were also charged with conspiring to launder money and conspiringto harbor illegal aliens relating to the operation of a brothel in Memphis. The traffickers recruited a 13-year-old girl in Mexico to come to Tennessee to work as a waitress. Once in Tennessee, they used force andsexual assaults to coerce the juvenile to engage in commercial sex in brothels run by the other defendants inthe case. Eleven defendants entered guilty pleas for their involvement in this scheme. Eight of the elevendefendants were sentenced to incarceration.4 2006, US v. Carreto (New York): An ICE-led investigation conducted in collaboration with Mexican lawenforcement targeted a sex trafficking organization that smuggled Mexican women into the United States.Upon arrival, the women were forced into prostitution at various brothels on the East Coast with threats ofviolence against them and their children left in Mexico. The traffickers raped several of the women. Fourdefendants pleaded guilty to sex trafficking, forced labor, and human smuggling charges. In April 2006,two of the defendants were sentenced to 50 years imprisonment. Two other defendants received 25 yearsand six and one half years imprisonment, respectively.53Jonathan Abel. "How Clearwater helped destroy an international sex slave ring.” St. Petersburg Times, March 15, 2009. http://www.tampabay.com/news/publicsafety/crime/article984066.ece (accessed April 6, 2011)4Department of Justice, “Tennessee Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking of Adults and Juveniles,” Department of Justice,http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2008/June/08-crt-580.html (accessed April 6, 2011).5Department of Justice, “Mexican Citizen Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking and Admits Her Role in an Organization That Forced Young MexicanWomen into Prostitution in New York,” Department of Justice, http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2008/July/08-crt-641.html (accessed April 6, 2011).Polaris Project | National Human Trafficking Resource Center | 1-888-3737-888 | NHTRC@PolarisProject.orgwww.PolarisProject.org © Copyright Polaris Project, 2011. All Rights Reserved
  5. 5. Latino Residential Brothels At-A-Glance | Polaris Project 2004, US v. Valle-Maldonado, (California): Four defendants, including a Mexican woman who ran abrothel, were convicted on federal conspiracy charges to bring at least 12 Mexican women, including 14-and 15-year-old girls, to be in the sex trade in the United States. Valle-Maldonado, who pleaded guilty,admitted that she recruited young women, including teenagers, in Mexico and paid for them to be smuggledinto the United States so they could be in the sex trade at massage parlors and residences in the LosAngeles area. On November 1, 2004, defendant Valle-Maldonado was sentenced to 54 months in prisonand ordered to pay $135,542 in restitution to the victims.6Polaris Project works to empower and mobilize people from diverse backgrounds and of all ages to takemeaningful action against human trafficking. Register with www.polarisproject.org/signup to receive regularupdates on human trafficking in the United States.6U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General’s Annual Report to Congress on U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons FiscalYear 2004 (Washington, DC, 2005): 25. http://www.usdoj.gov/ag/annualreports/tr2004/agreporthumantrafficing.pdf (accessed April 9, 2011)Polaris Project | National Human Trafficking Resource Center | 1-888-3737-888 | NHTRC@PolarisProject.orgwww.PolarisProject.org © Copyright Polaris Project, 2011. All Rights Reserved