A suburban New York police officer was among the six individuals charged with trafficking young women and underage girls from Mexico to engage in prostitution in an operation prosecutors say continued for the past 20 years, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
Wayne Peiffer – a police officer for the Village of Brewster, in Putnam County about an hour and 15-minute drive from Manhattan – was charged with conspiracy to transport minors and the transportation of minors, sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion, promotion of prostitution, use of interstate facilities to commit bribery and related conspiracy counts.
Those were the same counts filed against his co-defendants: Luz Elvira Cardona, Roberto Cesar Cid Dominguez, Cristian Noe Godinez, Blanca Hernandez Morales, Jose Facundo Zarate Morales.
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Godinez, also known as “El Chapparo,” remained a fugitive as of Tuesday. Peiffer was arrested in Highland, N.Y., in Ulster County. The rest were all arrested in Queens, N.Y.
“As alleged, the defendants conspired to lure young women and minor girls to travel to the United States based on false promises of a better life and forced them into prostitution once they arrived,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “The defendants allegedly received assistance in carrying out this conspiracy from a corrupt police officer who traded the honor of his badge and sworn oath for free sexual services.”
The 14-count indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn illustrates how the charges related to two groups – the Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization and the Godinez Prostitution Business – and the years-long bribery of Peiffer, who allegedly accepted free sexual services in exchange for protection from law enforcement detection and arrest.
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Since 2002, members of the Queens-based Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization have pressured victims to travel to the U.S. with false promises of employment and a better life, prosecutors said. Once smuggled into the country, the defendants wielded “force, threats of force, fraud and coercion” to force victims to engage in prostitution.
The group controlled “routes” for its drivers to transport young women and girls from Queens often across state lines to meet clients in locations including Brewster, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Godinez Prostitution Business also comprised a list of prostitution clients and hired drivers assigned with transporting women along those routes.
Both entities eventually “took steps to protect against interference by law enforcement in Brewster,” according to the indictment, by providing Peiffer with “prostitution services at no cost” in exchange for his protection, including “advance notice of increased law enforcement activities and assistance with avoiding detection and apprehension by law enforcement.”
Text messages show Peiffer asked drivers when they would be bringing a woman engaged in prostitution his way to engage in “commercial sex services” with him on several occasions over the span of several years, according to the indictment.
Sometimes Peiffer would instruct drivers to bring the women to the Brewster Police Department station to service him, prosecutors said.
“The allegations in today’s indictment – that these two illicit organizations were aided for years by a sworn officer who betrayed his solemn oath to protect the public – represent among the most heinous crimes we confront,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement. “The NYPD and our law enforcement partners share an unwavering commitment to protect survivors of human trafficking and to ensure that anyone seeking to profit through the abuse and exploitation of others is brought to justice.”
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Fox News Digital reached out to the Village of Brewster Police Department for comment.