Six, Including Police Officer In Hudson Valley, Charged In Sex Trafficking, Bribery Scheme

A police officer who allegedly protected a prostitution ring in exchange for free sexual favors is among six facing a host of charges for their roles in operating a sex trafficking organization throughout New York, federal officials announced.

Federal Court in Brooklyn.
Federal Court in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

In Brooklyn federal court, a 14-count indictment has been unsealed for six suspects who ran the operation - which included minors - while the cop protected them from being arrested by law enforcement.

Those charged:

  • Wayne Peiffer, age 48, of Highland in Ulster County;
  • Jose Facundo Zarate Morals, age 32, of Queens.
  • Luz Elvira Cardona, age 33, of Queens;
  • Roberto Cesar Cid Dominguez, age 54, of Queens;
  • Blanca Hernandez Morales, age 51, of Queens;
  • Cristian Noe Godinez, age 42, of Queens.

They were charged with:

  • Conspiracy to transport minors and the transportation of minors;
  • Sex trafficking;
  • Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion;
  • Promotion of prostitution;
  • Use of interstate facilities to commit bribery;
  • Related conspiracy counts.

The indictment also cites the years-long bribery of Peiffer, a member of the Brewster Police Department in Putnam County, who allegedly accepted free sexual services by the two organizations in exchange for protecting the organizations from law enforcement detection and arrest. 

“As alleged, the (six) conspired to lure young women and minor girls to travel to the United States based on false promises of a better life and forced them into prostitution once they arrived,” US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace said. 

“(They) allegedly received assistance in carrying out this conspiracy from a corrupt police officer who traded the honor of his badge and sworn oath for free sexual services.”

Peace said that the charges relate to the operation of two sex trafficking and prostitution organizations – the Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization and the Godinez Prostitution Business.

It is alleged the organizations have been operating and trafficking young women and mentor girls since May 2002 in Queens, with the girls transported across the state of New York.

Breon said that Cardona, Cid Dominguez, Hernandez Morales, and Zarate Morales used force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion to cause young women and minor girls from Mexico to engage in prostitution in the United States.

The Godinez Prostitution Business also regularly caused women to be transported from a location in Queens to various locations, including Brewster, for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

“As alleged, the individuals named in the indictment were part of an elaborate network of conspirators that used deception and coercion to sell dreams of a better life in the United States to young and impressionable women, who arrived only to be forced into a miserable life of torment, sexual abuse and prostitution at the hands of their captors,” Ricky Patel, acting Special Agent-in-Charge of theDepartment of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, said.

“The criminal organization also allegedly retained the services of a corrupt cop, who betrayed the badge and the people that he swore to protect by being complicit in these deplorable acts and accepting payments in sexual favors.”

The indictment alleges that since at least 2006, Peiffer has been a police officer in the village, and for more than eight years he allegedly directed members of the organizations to deliver women to him, including at the Brewster Police Department so that he could engage in sexual activity with the women at no cost. 

In exchange, Peiffer allegedly provided the two organizations protection from arrest, including by advanced warning of law enforcement operations and intervening to prevent arrest.

“Our arrest of a police officer isn't the most egregious facet of this investigation. We allege Mr. Peiffer had sex with the girls being trafficked as payment for his protection of the traffickers,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said.

“The oath law enforcement officers take affirms they will serve and protect law-abiding citizens and vulnerable members of the community, not aid and abet criminals who are abusing young girls and forcing them to have sex against their will.”

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