Local News

8 Charged In International Prostitution Ring

Posted August 28, 2006 5:21 a.m. EDT

— Federal and local investigators have arrested eight people in connection with an immigrant smuggling and prostitution ring.

Several nondescript houses around Durham that served as brothels were raided over the weekend following a year-long investigation by Durham police, the FBI and U.S. Postal Service inspectors.

Authorities said a well-organized operation brought women from Mexico and Central America and keep them in indentured service as prostitutes to repay their transportation expenses.

"A lot of them are promised jobs in the area, either in cleaning services or restaurants. They incur substantial expenses as a result of being transported across the southwest (U.S.) border and ultimately to Raleigh," FBI agent Greg Baker said. "Once they get to this area, of course, there are no jobs."

The multimillion-dollar operation stretched from New York to the Triangle, authorities said. As many as 40 women worked in area brothels, including several in Raleigh that were raided last month, when five people were arrested, authorities said.

"This is not just a local prostitution operation. It far exceeds that," Baker said. "They move girls illegally from house to house and state to state."

Most of the women arrested locally are slated for deportation, authorities said.

Bobby Lunsford works next door to one of the Durham houses authorities say was used by the prostitution ring. The weekend raid caught him off guard.

"It was so quiet, you'd never think something like that was going on," Lunsford said.

Comments are temporarily unavailable.