YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Three men caught by Fort Lee police at a local motel were charged with trafficking two 17-year-old sisters as prostitutes, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli announced this morning.
The North Jersey operation was uncovered after a Fort Lee police officer spotted Yadir Araujo, a 52-year-old auto mechanic from Elizabeth, sitting in a car parked outside the motel before dawn Sunday.
As the officer approached, Araujo “attempted to avoid being seen by slumping down below view of the windshield,” the prosecutor said.
The officer spotted several condoms in the vehicle ash tray and a purse on the front passenger’s side floor board.
Araujo (above, left), who had a previous counterfeiting arrest on his record, already was facing charges of credit card fraud, fraudulent use of a credit card and conspiracy from last June in Glen Rock.
He “directed the officer to a room in the motel where a girl was ‘working,’ so he summoned backups who joined him at the room, Molinelli said.
There they found Gayan DeSilva, 32 (above, right), a graphic designer from Englewood, along with one of the teen prostitutes, the prosecutor said.
They arrested both men and brought the girl to police headquarters, where she was reunited with her guardians, he said.
Detectives learned that the girl and her sister were recruited to work as escorts by Araujo and John Gaudin, 52, (above, middle) 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.
They found the other girl, who was also brought to headquarters, Molinelli said.
Araujo and Gaudin advertised online, made appointments for the girls and drove to them to and from various locations, including motels, the prosecutor said.
“Later, they would share the proceeds from this illicit and criminal arrangement with the juveniles,” he said.
Authorities seized four weapons — an imitation Glock pellet handgun from Araujo’s car and three guns from Gaudin’s home, Molinelli said.
They also seized “substantial amount of cash,” several cellphones, computers and other items that the prosecutor said were “derivative of an illegal credit card fraud operation,” he said.
Araujo and Gaudin were being held on $250,000 bail each in the Bergen County Jail, charged with four counts of human trafficking and two each of promoting prostitution with a child and child endangerment.
They also were charged with illegal weapons counts.
DeSilva posted $25,000 bail and was released. He’s charged with single counts each of human trafficking, child prostitution and child endangerment.
“The investigation is continuing and investigators are attempting to identify any other victims or employees of this illegal prostitution operation,” Molinelli said this morning.
MUGSHOTS: Courtesy BERGEN COUNTY SHERIFF
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