The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) suspects that Ysenni Gomez, the purported female ringleader of a New York sex trafficking ring, may have victimized hundreds of illegal immigrant women by luring them into prostitution with fake waitress job ads. The FBI says that when the women became aware of the scheme and refused to prostitute themselves they were harassed and threatened with deportation by Gomez until they complied.
Gomez was arrested on Aug. 12 following efforts by the Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force and local law enforcement who were participating in “Operation Cross Country,” a nationwide operation tasked with addressing sex trafficking and prosecuting the traffickers.
Earlier this month the FBI announced that due to the operation 84 minor victims of sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation have been identified and located and another 37 actively missing children have also been located, according to a statement by the Justice Department.
Investigators identified more than 1,600 ads allegedly linked to Gomez promoting prostitution going back a decade on websites including Facebook, Bedpage.com and MegaPersonals. Gomez may have been operating under the business name “Chica Express,” and may have gone by at least two aliases, Carolina and Ysenni Peguero.
“According to a federal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York, Gomez allegedly preyed on new arrival Spanish-speaking migrants to force them into prostitution in Westchester County and the Bronx,” Fox News reported.
The complaint detailed how an undocumented, migrant woman from Venezuela responded to an ad promoting waitress positions at a Manhattan restaurant. She then attended a phony interview and then, when she showed up for her first day at work, she was allegedly coerced by Gomez to start having sex for money, and if she refused, Gomez would contact federal authorities to have her deported.
The complaint says that the Venezuelan woman, who initially refused to prostitute herself, was then bullied and threatened by Gomez and an alleged accomplice for days until she eventually agreed to see up to three clients a night. For approximately three weeks the woman saw “regular” clients who paid $200 per encounter as well as “VIP” clients who paid $700 per encounter at a Westchester County hotel, according to Fox News.
Gomez was arrested after an undercover agent responded to an ad for a sexual encounter at a hotel in Tarrytown where Gomez arrived in an SUV to drop off a victim and was promptly taken into custody.
FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Brendan Kenney told Fox 5 NY, “We want to ensure that any victims out there come forward because the FBI is singularly focused on seeking justice for them,” adding that, “Those victims should not fear deportation if they come forward.”
Authorities, including the FBI Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, the Greenburgh Police Department, and the local police are asking that anyone with information about Gomez and her operation, or anyone who may have been victimized by her, call the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
“Immigration status will not be used against those who report alleged sex trafficking schemes to authorities,” Fox News Reported.