Duo face sex trafficking charges on LI, NYC

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Two men from Mexico were arraigned Monday on charges they ran a sex trafficking ring in New York City and Long Island, federal prosecutors said.

The suspects, brothers who were extradited from Mexico during the weekend, were accused of deceiving the women and girls as young as 14 years old into romantic relationships and then coercing them to work as prostitutes in their home country and the metropolitan area.

In addition, the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office disclosed that a third man allegedly involved in a separate sex trafficking conspiracy was extradited last month from Mexico to stand trial.

"Sex trafficking of young girls and women is modern-day slavery," said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch. "We will do everything in our power to eradicate it."

The suspects were identified as Benito Lopez-Perez, 32, and his brother Anastasio Romero-Perez, 39, who had both been living in Tenancingo, Mexico, a city notorious to Mexican and U.S. law enforcement as a major center of human smuggling and sex trafficking. The brothers were ordered held without bail by supervisory U.S. District Judge Carol Amon.

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The third suspect, Antonio Lira-Robles, 37, was arraigned on Nov. 19 on a separate sex trafficking case allegedly run by members of the Granados-Hernandez trafficking family, also from Tenancingo. Lira-Robles, court papers stated, was accused of luring women romantically with promises of love and support. After a short stay in a Granados home, the women were pressured by Lira-Robles and others to travel to the United States, court papers alleged.

The Granados family operatives in the New York area allegedly kept at least one woman in a house at 210 Dartmouth St., Hempstead, and several at 2423 Frisby Ave., in the Bronx. From there they were taken, often by livery drivers, to meet with clients, said federal prosecutors.

As added coercion, the Granados crew members threatened to harm the families of the women back in Mexico if they resisted working as prostitutes, said investigators.

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The women wired money they earned to Granados family members in Mexico, according to U.S. officials.

In a related development, Lynch said that a child living in Mexico was allowed to reunite with its mother, a former prostitute in the United States. The mother had cooperated in an investigation that led to several convictions, Lynch said.

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