A Mexican man pleaded guilty yesterday to being part of an international sex trafficking ring that spanned from Mexico to Queens. Angel Cortez Granados, 25, admitted to seducing a woman, then bringing her to the U.S. as his girlfriend, only to force her into sex slavery: “I threatened her, telling her that she was alone in this country, that nobody would help her, so that she would work as a prostitute." He said he threatened to call the cops on her if she didn't comply: “Since she didn’t have any papers, (I was) scaring her with the possibility of going to jail,” he said.
Six other members of the Los Granados sex trafficking ring have been charged in New York, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Pamela Chen. Chen adds that the ring, which is based out of Tenancingo, is believed to be a family own-and-run operation, with more than 20 of Granados' family members taking part in it since 1998. The pimps (who literally paid tribute to a “patron saint of pimps” every year in their hometown) would often partner with livery drivers based out of Roosevelt Ave. in Jackson Heights, where promoters hand out cards and even bottle openers advertising sexy girls for “delivery.”
Last month, a woman who was ensnared in a similar ring (it's unclear whether it was Los Granados or not) told the Daily News all about the years she spent as a sex slave in his service. “I feel like I went to thousands of homes. How many in a day, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. All I know is that there were too many,” she said. “In some of them there would be as many as eight, 10 men.”
The woman hopes she can help other prostitutes escape slavery in the future, and in particular, help them understand that police will help them in these situations: “I always thought, ‘That’s impossible. If you were to go talk to police, they’d arrest you instead of paying attention and listening to you,’” she said. “But now I realize it’s the opposite. Yes, it is possible. It can happen in real life, not just on TV. It’s not like you might think if you’re afraid. And that’s what I want people to realize.”
Two years ago, nonprofit organization Restore NYC opened the first safehouse in NYC dedicated to women who have escaped the global sex trade. But at the time, the opening underscored the difficulty of successfully identifying, arresting and prosecuting sex traffickers. Part of the problem was training officers to distinguish between sex trafficking and prostitution.