- The Perez brothers have been extradited to the United States
- Other charges include interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and money laundering
- The indictments are a result of the Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative
Two Mexican brothers have been extradited to the United States to join a third brother to face sex trafficking charges in New York as part of a complex collaborative effort to combat human trafficking, federal officials said Monday.
Benito Lopez-Perez, 32, and Anastasio Romero-Perez, 39, were arraigned on a 25-count indictment Monday morning in Brooklyn Federal Court, the U.S. attorney and the Justice Department said in a news release.
The extensive indictment is the product of the Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative, an in-depth partnership involving the Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Urban Justice Center and many non-profit and non-governmental organizations in the United States and Mexico, the release said.
"The indictment charges the defendants with sex trafficking, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and money laundering offenses, involving victims as young as 14 and 15 years old," it said.
On December 3, the third brother, Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez, 51, was extradited from Mexico to face the same charges, officials said.
U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch also announced the extradition last month of Antonio Lira-Robles on the same charges.
All the extraditions resulted from the comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has so far resulted in the indictment of 52 defendants on sex trafficking charges and has "rescued over 100 victims, including 17 minors," the release said.
"The sex trafficking of young girls and women is modern-day slavery we will do everything in our power to eradicate," Lynch said in a news conference Monday.
She also announced the reuniting of a victim of sex trafficking with her child after a separation of more than 10 years.
The mother was involved with the Carreto family sex trafficking ring, officials said. The ring operated between Mexico and United States from 1991 to 2004, the Justice Department said upon Carreto's sentencing in 2009.
United States v. Carreto is considered to be "one of the first sex trafficking cases prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office in Brooklyn," according to Monday's news release, "After substantial post-conviction investigation and international coordination, the child was located and reunited with the victim-mother."
Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center, called this "an example of people going above and beyond and being creative and thinking outside the box in order to make this happen. Now we need the lessons we learned in this case to be institutionalized."
Baskin said she and others working as a part of the ad hoc task force realize that the fate of the victims is just as important as the fate of the traffickers.
Under the initiative, "the United States and Mexico have collaborated to bring high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border," Monday's news release said.
"The extraditions over the weekend followed by the arraignments today are a testament to our resolve to bring justice to those charged with forcing young women into prostitution," James T. Hayes Jr. is the special agent-in-charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York.