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Long IslandCrime

Officials: 3 from Suffolk charged in NJ human trafficking case

Selena Boneta, 19, from West Babylon, left, Jefferson

Selena Boneta, 19, from West Babylon, left, Jefferson Contreras, 18, from Bay Shore, and Edwin Boneta, 22, from Central Islip, were arrested on Oct. 12, 2016 and face charges of human trafficking and promoting prostitution after a joint investigation by New Jersey law enforcement and Suffolk County police, authorities said. Photo Credit: Bergen County prosecutor’s office

Three Suffolk residents face human trafficking charges after a joint investigation by New Jersey and Suffolk law enforcement, authorities said.

The trio forced three teenage girls to a motel in South Hackensack, New Jersey to engage in prostitution, according to New Jersey prosecutors.

Edwin Boneta, 22, of Central Islip; Jefferson Contreras, 18, of Bay Shore; and Selena Boneta, 19, of West Babylon, were arrested Wednesday on fugitive warrant charges.

On Thursday, they appeared before Suffolk acting County Court Judge Jennifer Henry in Human Trafficking Court, a court clerk said.

While the two male defendants waived extradition, Selena Boneta instead will ask another judge for bail because she was working when the crime occurred, according to her defense attorney, Huntington Station-based Christopher J. Cassar.

Boneta, a health care worker, “has an alibi, she was at work in Suffolk County, New York, when this incident allegedly happened,” said Cassar, who added his client “said she’s never been to New Jersey.”

Cassar said he is asking her employer to verify her alibi.

Though the police traced a car rented in her name, Cassar said he hoped video from a car rental agency will show that she was not the one who rented it.

“She’s only 19, and has never been arrested before,” he said.

Attorneys for the other two defendants were not immediately available.

Selena Boneta was remanded and her case continued until Friday, said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney, by email.

An accomplice, Stephanie Boneta, 23, of Paterson, New Jersey, was arrested Oct. 2, after police went to the South Hackensack motel and found the three girls, according to a news release from acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal.

Stephanie Boneta was arraigned in Bergen County and is charged with three counts of facilitation of human trafficking and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

She is being held on $225,000 bail and is scheduled to return to court in New Jersey on Oct. 31, officials said.

Edwin Boneta and Contreras are each charged with three counts of human trafficking, three counts of promoting prostitution of a juvenile and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, the release said.

Selena Boneta is charged with three counts of facilitation of human trafficking and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Officials did not immediately explain all of the relationships of the suspects to each other.

Officials said the investigation included police from Suffolk and South Hackensack and investigators from the Bergen County prosecutor’s office.

CORRECTION: The location of where the three Suffolk County residents face human trafficking charges was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

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