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Sex-slave bars reportedly overwhelmingly profitable

Police arrest a man at the LaHija Del

Police arrest a man at the LaHija Del Mariachi Bar & Grill which was raided at 359 Horseblock Road in Farmingville just after 12 a.m. as part of a sweeping attempt to break up sex slave rings across Suffolk, according to court documents. Credit: Newsday/Photo by James Carbone

Two Long Island bars that federal officials say served as the headquarters of a sexual-slavery ring were so profitable "that each night . . . needed bags and boxes to carry out the cash," according to a federal informant.

Part of why the bars were supposedly so profitable may have been that at least one was considered "a clip joint" according to State Liquor Authority records.

SLA spokesman Bill Crowley said Wednesday that the "clip joint" term indicated investigators had found that the women employees were encouraging male patrons to buy pricey shots of alcohol for each of them. While the patrons were served alcoholic drinks, the women were given water, Crowley said.

The alleged "clip joint" was La Hija del Mariachi in Lake Ronkonkoma, state records show. The other bar was Sonidos de la Frontera in Farmingville.

The Authority was scheduled to move next week to lift the licenses of the two bars for numerous violations of state law unrelated to the federal slavery case.

The three defendants in the case - Antonio Rivera, his sister Jasmin Rivera and John Whaley - have been charged with slavery, trafficking in sexual workers, and harboring undocumented immigrants. Their attorney could not be reached Wednesday.

The unidentified federal informant, who said he worked in the bars during 2007, was quoted in court papers by federal prosecutors who have been trying to trace money generated by the bars. So far, officials have not been able to do so, according to sources familiar with the case.

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