Alleged sex slave ring busted on L.I.

August 10, 2009 2:55:50 PM PDT
Federal authorities are accusing three New Yorkers of forcing illegal immigrants from Central America to work as prostitutes. Investigators say they are focusing on two bar and grills -- places that officials say mostly caters to undocumented immigrants who can order food, drinks and sex with so called ''cantina girls."

Swarms of FBI agents rescued dozens of young women, some just 17-years-old, during the overnight hours.

They live in Suffolk County illegally from El Salvador and Honduras. All employees who allegedly also had to perform sexual acts at a Portuguese and Mexican restaurant in Farmingville

"It used to be a coffee shop. Actually, a really nice coffee shop. I'm surprised," one resident said.

The suspects under arrest include 34 year old Antonio Rivera, who's also listed on the New York State Sex Offender Registry . He was convicted of raping 13 and 14 year old girls in 1998.

Also arrested in the raid was Rivera's sister, Jasmine, and John Whaley of Bellport. Investigators said Whaley worked at both facilities, La Hija in Farmingville and Sonidos.

Police say the bust started with a tip from a young female victim who voluntarily entered the United States illegally and stumbled into the job as an unsuspecting waitress.

Other victims then came forward telling agents the 3 suspects lured them in from Central America on the internet with a promise of opportunity only to, according to federal court papers, be beaten, raped, fondled and forced to perform stripteases for and by patrons.

Richard Ramos works at a hair salon in the same plaza as La Hija. He says he didn't know about the alleged prostitution, but says some of his customers are regulars there. He says everyone seems to know its the waitresses, not the food, that draw a big crowd

"We know that they're very, very pretty. They're quiet, though. They keep their mouths shut," Ramos said.

The suspects are accused of slavery, trafficking in sex workers, and harboring undocumented workers through threats of force. If convicted they face life in prison


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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