A man from Mexico is back in the States after being extradited to face charges for an alleged sex trafficking conspiracy involving minors in Queens.
Jose Miguel Melendez-Rojas, 45, was scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, Aug. 15 in Brooklyn federal court on an 18-count indictment charging him with operating a sex trafficking conspiracy, sex trafficking of minors, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling, and a money-laundering conspiracy.
Melendez-Rojas was arrested in February in Mexico following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mexican Federal Police and Homeland Security. He is one of five charged for their roles in the operation, including a trio from Queens and two others who have already been extradited from Mexico.
Others charged include Francisco Melendez-Perez, 25, Fabian Reyes-Rojas, 39, Abel Romero-Melendez, 33, all of Queens, and Jose Osvaldo Melendez-Rojas, 45, and Rosalio Melendez-Rojas, 37, who are both from Mexico.
“Melendez-Rojas was flown thousands of miles to face charges for his role in trafficking and victimizing young women purely for profit. It’s alleged that he, with others in this ‘family business,’ used intimidation and abuse to force their victims to participate in sexual acts against their will,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent-in-Charge Peter Fitzhugh said.
“The safety and well-being of the victim comes first and we will continue to work with our law enforcement partners in ensuring these criminal organizations cease to victimize for revenue.”
The indictment alleges that between 2006 and July 2017, Melendez-Rojas and his co-conspirators smuggled women and girls from Mexico into the country, where they were forced to work as prostitutes in and around Manhattan. They then conspired to launder the proceeds to conceal the nature of where the money came from.
“With this extradition, the defendant Jose Miguel Melendez-Rojas will be held accountable in a United States court for sex trafficking women and girls and related crimes,” United States Attorney Donoghue stated. “The Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law those who profit from forcing vulnerable victims into sexual servitude.”
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