Every year, thousands of women are trafficked to New York City from Latin America, and lately China, to work in brothels and massage parlors or as out-call prostitutes.
Statistics are hard to come by because the trade is hidden and victims rarely come forward — blocked by language barriers, leery of law enforcement and fearful of vengeful pimps who threaten to kill their families.
Last month, eight members of a gang of pimps pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court to racketeering, sex trafficking of minors and human smuggling. Each member of the Rendon-Reyes gang — a family enterprise that terrorized and trafficked girls and women for a decade — faces life in prison.
The Anti-Trafficking Initiative at Sanctuary for Families interviewed 356 suspected victims of sex trafficking in Queens and Brooklyn last year, according to Lori Cohen, a crusading lawyer and the initiative’s director. The previous year, it interviewed 245.
Sandra, 30, is one former sex slave helped by Sanctuary for Families. Kidnapped from her hardscrabble hometown in central Mexico and forced into the sex trade at age 19, she escaped her pimp-captor in 2011 and has received counseling, legal aid and health care from the group ever since. Wanting to protect her family, Sandra declined to provide her last name.
Here she tells her story:
By Isabel Vincent – May 6, 2017 – New York Post