3 accused of running major Hispanic prostitution ring in North Alabama
By Jay Reeves
Associated Press Writer
BIRMINGHAM — Three Mexican men accused of running a major prostitution ring catering to Hispanics in Northeast Alabama allegedly paid women $15 to perform sex acts and hired a bounty hunter to pose as a police officer and shut down rival operations.
The men had hundreds of condoms to provide to customers, and they sent profits of as much as $1,000 every three days to the owner of the illicit business in Mexico, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
One women had sex with upward of 80 men daily toward the end of each week, the prosecutors’ documents say, and agents were told that women from eight Latin American countries worked at the trailer-park brothel in Marshall County.
The charges are contained in a complaint linked to the federal indictment announced Tuesday of three Mexican men accused of operating a prostitution business in a mobile home in Albertville.
Police raided the ring in February and estimated it took in as much as $800,000 annually while forcing women into a life as prostitutes. Authorities said the brothel operated for as long as seven years, although the indictment covers only a two-year period beginning in March 2005.
Since February, police have broken up a second, smaller prostitution operation in Albertville.
“It was another trailer park on the other side of town. It just happened to be Hispanic also,” police Sgt. Jamie Smith said Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors said Jose Fernandez-Gonzales, 25; and brothers Miguel Leon Mora, 31, and Jose Elias Mirada-Guillen, 41, were charged with conspiracy, enticing an alien to engage in prostitution and transporting an alien across state lines for illegal sexual activity. All are Mexican citizens, federal authorities said.
Mirada, who previously was deported as an illegal immigrant in 1989, was charged with illegally re-entering the United States.
Attorneys for the men did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment.
If convicted, the men face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and fines of $250,000.
Court documents contend the business was owned by Martin Gonzalez, brother of Leon and Mirada. Every three days, the pair wired him profits ranging from $800 to $1,000, according to a sworn statement by a federal agent.
Customers entering the trailer paid $30 for a poker chip they could exchange for 15 minutes of sex, the statement claims. The women would collect the chips and then trade them in for $15 each.
A man nicknamed “Security” worked for the ring and posed as a police officer to close competing prostitution operations, the complaint said, and officers who stopped a car driven by Leon found it loaded with cash totaling $7,070, 576 condoms and clean sheets and bedding.
The traffic stop helped lead to the arrests.
Besides the men, police arrested two alleged prostitutes — Antera Genoveve Peguero-Ayala, a Dominican immigrant in the United States legally, and Graciela Flores, a Mexican citizen who was brought to Alabama from Gainesville, Ga.
Flores — who claimed to have sex with 25 men on slow days and around 80 on busy days — told authorities that women from Cuba, Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador also worked as prostitutes, the court documents show.
Police in Albertville, about 60 miles northeast of Birmingham, believe the arrests at least temporarily shut down brothels catering to Spanish-speaking men in the area.
“There are none at the moment that we know of,” said Smith.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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