FORT LEE, N.J. -- Alert work by a Fort Lee police officer secured the return of two 17-year-old sisters who authorities said were forced to become prostitutes and a sweeping human trafficking indictment against three men, one from Englewood
The North Jersey operation was uncovered after the officer spotted Yadir Araujo, a 33-year-old auto mechanic from Elizabeth, sitting in a car parked outside a Fort Lee motel before dawn last April.
The officer said he saw Araujo duck down as he approached, then spotted several condoms in the vehicle ashtray and a purse on a floor board.
Araujo who had a previous counterfeiting arrest on his record, already was facing credit card fraud and conspiracy charges in Glen Rock, Daily Voice learned.
The officer said he was directed to a motel room where a girl was "working," so he summoned backups.
There, they said, they found Gayan DeSilva, 35, a graphic designer from Englewood, along with one of the teens.
They arrested both men and brought the girl to police headquarters, where she was reunited with her guardians.
Detectives said the girl and her sister were recruited to work as escorts by Araujo and John Gaudin, 33, a restaurant manager from the Parlin section of Old Bridge in Middlesex County.
Fort Lee police officers contacted the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Squad, which specializes in human trafficking cases. The unit rescued the other girl.
Authorities said they seized an imitation Glock Replica Airsoft pistol from Araujo’s car, as well as cash, cellphones, computers and other items that they said were part of an illegal credit card operation.
Araujo and Gaudin advertised online, made appointments and drove the girls to and from various locations, including motels, authorities charge.
They operated between Sayreville and Fort Lee, the indictment returned in Hackensack says.
Together they "did hold, recruit, lure, entice, harbor, transport, provide or obtain a child under 18 to engage in sexual activity," a form of prostitution that also constituted human trafficking, it says.
Counts also include child endangerment, impairing the morals of a minor, transporting proceeds from criminal activity and a illegal weapons possession charge.
Araujo posted $250,000 bail and was released within hours. DeSilva posted $25,000 bail and was released.
Gaudin remained in the Bergen County Jail for a month and a half before posting $250,000 bail.
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