A Paterson convict ran a sex-trafficking ring from a New York prison, having the women he controlled raped, beaten and branded with his name, with help from his ex-wife and another accomplice, federal authorities said Thursday.
Jean "Poison" Noriega, 48, used “violence, threats of violence, threats of drug withdrawal, and other means, to compel the victims to engage in commercial sex for his profit, including after his incarceration in New York in 2017,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said.
Noriega had help controlling the drug-dependent victims from Enna Gonzalez, 53, and John "Peachy,” Oyola, 32, both also of Paterson, the U.S. attorney said.
“These bitches are dumb bitches, dumb m***** f****** bitches,” his ex-wife, Gonzalez, was recorded telling Noriega. “I can see why you can manipulate them.”
“Nah,” Noriega responds. “I can't do this with somebody that has got a head on their shoulders.”
Noriega was arrested at a hotel in New York two years ago and pleaded guilty last October to promoting prostitution and drug possession in exchange for a two-year prison sentence that he’s currently serving.
The FBI obtained Noriega’s recorded jail phone calls, including one made the on Aug. 11, 2017, the day after he was arrested in New York. During the call, Noriega directed Oyola to take two victims to a Connecticut hotel, with help from Gonzalez, to pay his bail.
A week later, Oyola called to tell Noriega that he was still looking for both women and would beat them if he found them.
Newark FBI Field Office Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said the offenses subsequently outlined in a criminal complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Newark “defy humanity.”
The defendants “plied young women with promises of a better life and then used drugs, violence and extreme emotional manipulation - including death threats - as a means of control,” Ehrie said.
“These women were then forced to engage in commercial sex, exposing them to both health and physical danger, while the defendants profited,” the special agent said. “The lead defendant treated them as chattel, branding some with his name, raping them, and beating them when it suited him.”
Before he was jailed for another conviction in New York state, Noriega brought several of the victims from his Paterson home to hotels in New Jersey and New York, the FBI complaint says.
He and his accomplices kept the victims hooked on drugs, while beating and threatening them in front of the others, the government alleges.
One time, the FBI charged, Noriega “beat a woman with a belt until she was bleeding from her head.
According to the complaint:
Noriega and Gonzalez bought advertisements on the Backpage.com using sexually explicit photos of the victims and the numbers of cellphones that were given to them.
Noriega also paid for several hotel rooms at a time – most of them immediately next to one another -- and monitored the activity.
He also made the victims call him while they were engaged so that he could listen in on the sex and payments.
Noriega “recruited and enticed already drug-addicted young women, including the victims, to stay at [his] Paterson residence with the promise that he would provide them with more,” using their addictions to get them to turn tricks for drugs.
Gonzalez helped maintain the “climate of fear” among the victims by telling them Noriega would beat them if they didn’t comply.
Oyola drove the victims to and from the hotels and sometimes recorded video of Noriega harming the victims or other women – including the bloody belt beating.
Noriega was brought before a judge Thursday in U.S. District Court in Syracuse.
Oyola made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Newark on Thursday and Gonzalez two days earlier.
All are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in the federal criminal complaint.
“We are a civilized country with zero tolerance for people who run brutal sex trafficking operations,” Ehrie said. “The FBI wants to help free any victims of such a nightmare and bring to justice those who engage in the type of depravity illustrated in today's criminal complaint."
Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office’s Human Trafficking Unit and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision Office of Special Investigations with the investigation leading to the charges.
Handling the case for the government is Assistant U.S. Attorney Sophie Reiter of Carpenito’s Newark office and Trial Attorney Kate Hill for the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.
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