Prostitution charges are typically the domain of State and local law enforcement, but yesterday prosecutors in Greeneville, Tennessee, unveiled an indictment charging 9 defendants with several federal prostitution-related charges, including conspiracy to transport prostitutes in interstate commerce (18 U.S.C. § 2421), conspiracy to induce interstate travel for prostitution (18 U.S.C. § 2422(a)), and conspiracy to operate brothels with illegal aliens (18 U.S.C. § 2424), among others.
According to the allegations in the Indictment, here are some of the highlights of the operation:
1. The Defendants recruited Spanish-speaking women who illegally entered the United States and engaged them to become prostitutes.
2. The defendants handled the prostitutes, keeping a prostitute in one location for a week at a time. The prostitutes worked Monday through Saturday and traveled between cities on Sundays. Most of the defendants' prostitutes began working at 1:00 p.m. and worked through midnight, six days per week. The defendants' prostitutes were generally expected to engage in sexual intercourse with 30 customers per day
3. Alleged customers paid the defendants $30 for fifteen minutes of sexual intercourse with a prostitute.
4. The defendants advertised their brothels and prostitution delivery services via word of mouth in the Spanish-speaking communities in the foregoing cities and via business cards printed in Spanish. The business cards used code words for prostitution services including but not limited to, haircuts, flowers, and appetistas.
5. The brothels were located in various locations in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and South Carolina.
Knoxville News Sentinel writer Natalie Alund reports that the indictment was the result of a 5-month investigation. In the article, Hamblen County Sheriff Esco Jarnagin claims that "The women were enticed to come here and paid to enter on the pretense they had an upstanding job or at least a law-abiding job. Once they got here, they'd realized they'd been tricked. They're here, they're hungry, they don't have any friends and have been threatened to cooperate."
If convicted, each defendant could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.