QUEENS (PIX11) — The Mexican women who were wooed to places like Queens and Yonkers and North Jersey with promises of marriage instead were forced to toil as prostitutes, sometimes servicing more than 20 men a day.
That was part of the case made by Homeland Security agents, who busted a three-state sex ring the first week of May.
“You just do what you’re told and hope that one day you will find a way to get out of it,” said Carol Smolenski, executive director of EC-PAT, which stands for “End Child Trafficking and Prostitution.”
PIX11 News revisited a story we did on human trafficking in 2004, as we looked at a recent case on Seneca Avenue in Bushwick —where Mexican women were being forced to work as sex slaves.
Smolenski told PIX 11 Thursday an estimated one hundred thousand young people are being sexually exploited for profit in the United States, and they’re not all foreigners.
“There’s a huge spectrum of exploitation,” Smolenski said. “Commercial. Non-commercial. Chained in. Not chained. But mental chains are used to make you do things.”
Smolenski said hearing about Americans being — literally — locked in captivity was shocking to her, because threats and beatings are often enough to keep sex slaves subservient.
“They have a whole array of threats they can use, especially against someone from another country,” Smolenski said. “If you don’t do what I say, you will be locked up for the rest of your life by the American authorities. We will beat you. We will kill your family in your home country.”
Smolenski said a John Jay College survey a couple of years back indicated about four thousand young people are being sexually exploited right here in New York.
She added, “I really think this Cleveland case will be a ‘wake up’ call. If you see something, say something. It doesn’t just apply to terrorists.”