January 19th, 2013
10:19 AM ET

Inside look: How an alleged sex slavery ring is dismantled

By Vivian Kuo, CNN

Savannah, Georgia, (CNN) - An agent presses against a light blue wall and it gives way. Behind it is a makeshift room made of foam insulation and a cheap plywood frame.

The woman inside is believed to be a victim of a human trafficking ring that law enforcement agents busted during a four-state coordinated raid Wednesday.

She is on a small bed with a thin mattress on springs. A large free-standing mirror sits to the side, and clothes are strewn across the floor.

Upon surveying the scene inside the Savannah, Georgia, townhouse, Brock Nicholson, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent in charge, said he's never witnessed a situation like this.

"[This] is basically where they had the victim, where she serviced commercial sex acts, her hellish life is. She lived - all of her possessions, the tools of the commercial sex trade - all in this one little 10 by 12 box," he says.

Shortly before discovering the woman - one of 11 sex slaves rescued that day - about 120 agents from more than 10 law enforcement agencies joined forces in a highly coordinated raid covering 16 locations in Georgia, Florida and North and South Carolina.

It's no easy task when you consider that each location had to be hit at precisely the same time. Arrive at one house a few seconds early, and the operation is blown.

All it takes is one phone call or text message among the alleged conspirators and the police could lose their suspects - and the chance to dismantle a sex-trafficking ring authorities believe is responsible for the imprisonment of at least a dozen women.

The effort begins at 5 a.m. The moon is still up, and more than a dozen cars and trucks have converged on what would ordinarily be a deserted mall parking lot in Savannah.

A horde of law enforcement officers, all wearing dark shirts and pants, many with walkie-talkies hanging on their belts and holstered guns strapped to their thighs, discuss the day's mission - the culmination of more than six months of police work.

The eighth floor of a downtown Savannah office is similarly filling with activity. The heart is a conference room-turned-command center. Large posterboards display maps and diagrams under the bold heading: Operation Dark Night.

Back at the staging area in the mall parking lot, the agents begin assembling around 5:30 a.m. There's a sense of nervous anticipation.

"We're talking about the goals, who's going to accomplish them, who's going to do what," explains Nicholson, who is based out of ICE's Atlanta office. "You can't plan for everything, but certainly, if you think it out a little bit, you're better prepared."

The pre-operation briefing is quick. In minutes, the parking lot empties as the officers and agents climb into their vehicles.

Their destination is just a few blocks away, and agents believe that inside the targeted townhouse is the alleged trafficking operation's ringleader, Joaquin Mendez-Hernandez, who goes by the nickname, "El Flaco," Spanish for "the skinny guy."

Nicholson parses no words in expressing what he thinks of El Flaco: "When it comes down to going in, they'll be focused. Especially in a case like this where they're hoping to rescue someone, and hoping to put away a pretty heinous dude."

At 5:50am, the command center comes alive as various teams call in. Ryan Spradlin, a deputy special agent in charge with the Atlanta bureau of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, coordinates efforts.

"This is where all the operation info is being vetted and called in," he says. "Everyone's locked and loaded and ready to execute those arrest warrants."

Meanwhile, a cavalcade of vehicles files into an apartment complex, the agents still inside, quietly coiled, weapons at the ready.

When the clock hits 6, the officers storm the townhouse, pounding on the door and announcing themselves. Moments later they gain entry after smashing through the red front door with a battering ram.

Inside, they find El Flaco and an unidentified man. Two HSI agents bring out the alleged ringleader first. He's sporting a white T-shirt, jeans and loosely tied sneakers,

His hair is closely cropped. His head is down. There's a sullen expression on his face.  Mendez-Hernandez is charged with six counts relating to sex trafficking, including travel in interstate commerce for the purposes of prostitution.  In a court appearance, he did not give a plea.

"It's not often you get to see a monster in person," Nicholson says.

The woman from the secret room comes out next, accompanied by two female HSI agents.

Her face is streaked with tears. She is taken to a nearby hotel to be questioned as El Flaco is taken to jail.

The unidentified man emerges last. He stares straight ahead as he, too, is taken into custody. His relationship to the trafficking ring is unknown. Police consider him an added bonus to an already productive day that's just showing the first hints of dawn.

Back at the command center a flurry of calls come in, and by noon, police report that another dozen males have been taken into custody, and several more women have been freed.

At another location in nearby Port Wentworth, Georgia, several school buses are weaving through a tidy subdivision, picking up children heading to elementary school.

Among the well-tended houses, one home sticks out. Debris litters the yard, and a rusty '80s-era pickup sits half in the driveway and half in a yard full of brown grass. A beer bottle sits atop a laundry machine on the front porch.

Cops stand outside the house, several wearing full face masks to protect their identities. They're here for more key players in the sex-trafficking ring: the johns.

"They are the demand. They are the reason that these services are being provided. If there were no johns, there wouldn't be this problem," U.S. Attorney Ed Tarver says. "We want to hold all of the individuals responsible for this taking place. We want to prosecute everyone who made this happen."

As HSI officers deposit boxes of confiscated evidence into unmarked cars, three men come out of the house, two illegal immigrants and an American citizen.

In a neighborhood minutes away, two trailers are also raided. At one, there are Negra Modelo beer cans on the step, and a fast-food bag sits on the porch's railing.

Women were brought to these trailers, and johns lined up for their services, agents say. A 21-page indictment details how women would sometimes service 30 or more men a day. The price?  Officials say johns paid thirty dollars a visit.

For many of these women, it's a continuation of a long pattern, explains the woman charged with coaxing them out of a shell of distrust and abuse.

"They may have been arrested, sexually assaulted as a child, may have been in a home where domestic violence exists. That's a pretty common denominator with a lot of the victims that we encounter," said Alia El-Sawi, a Department of Homeland Security victim assistance specialist.

El-Sawi has already met with several women who were rescued from their captors, and there's much work to do, she says.

"You have to realize a lot of these women are talking to you as a complete stranger, and we're expecting them to tell us their whole history of their victimization, just upon first meeting us. So, naturally, there's some hesitation because we are complete strangers, because we are affiliated with law enforcement, but our job is to try to build that rapport, try to put them at ease, and hopefully assist them," she said.

El-Sawi continued, "A lot of these women, and sometimes children, are traumatized by what the traffickers have done to them. They've been deceived; they've been brought here under false pretenses."

Their emotions, El-Sawi says, run the gamut.

"We have some that are very closed off emotionally and hardly want to speak. We have others who are wanting to vent, to get it all out. We have some that are very angry at what's happened to them, and they take that opportunity to let it all out, and in a way, are speaking out for the first time."

None of the women speaks publicly, but officials say they hope they will cooperate, possibly by revealing the locations of more enslaved women or by identifying more perpetrators.

For victims of trafficking in the United States illegally, there's often a fear of deportation – something their captors often use to brainwash them. ICE Director John Morton said this shouldn't be a concern, though.

"The law expressly allows for these women to be given temporary immigration status so that there isn't any threat of deportation. They can come forward, help us with our investigation and prosecution and work with us to get them back on firm footing. Ultimately, the law allows for them to stay permanently in such circumstances," he said.

The road to recovering from the horrific treatment many of these women have suffered is a long one, but El-Sawi says success stories abound.

"On a personal level, obviously it makes me feel better to know that someone that's been victimized for a number of days, months, years is finally able to make their own choices for once. For a long time, many of these women had no choices. The traffickers had complete control over them," El-Sawi says. "Knowing that they're going to be stabilized, some victims keep in touch, call and say, 'Hey, I got my GED, I'm in a healthy relationship, I've opened my own business.' They've thrived."

Agents considered Wednesday a good day. Ten out of 12 individuals named in a federal criminal indictment were arrested. Another three were arrested based on information gleaned over the course of the day, and at least 40 other men were taken into custody.

"I'm very excited about this because when we received the allegations regarding this behavior, we thought it was a smaller scale. After we looked into it, we discovered it was a much larger scale than any of us could have imagined," Tarver said. "And to have the opportunity to shut down an operation of this size gives us a tremendous feeling of accomplishment."

Topics: Life In Slavery

soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. echomuffler

    Good job!

    January 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Reply
    • RobbD

      YES..... indeed

      January 20, 2013 at 1:44 am | Reply
    • larry

      How about also prosecuting the johns. They are "Accessories". I also hope the dirt bag in this story gets 20 years so as to deter others who may be thinking about it.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:45 am | Reply
      • AreWeHonestEnough

        We need to target Pimps and Johns they are both the reason why these innocent lives get scarred forever.

        January 20, 2013 at 8:52 am |
      • slidetone91

        They did go after the Johns stating they are the root cause.

        January 20, 2013 at 9:46 am |
      • Mortran

        Actually we need to target the law enforcement officers and state attorneys, so that they leave these innocent people in peace next time.

        January 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
      • jimmy

        larry: if you read the whole story, that's exactly what the last raid was about.

        January 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
      • Joe

        Mortran: so you're one of the Johns, you t*rd ?

        January 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • hjames

      now if they would just bust barney frank for this kind of stuff. there is one sick predator.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:10 pm | Reply
    • Dana

      Great article bringing attention to a global crisis that's taking place right in our own backyard. #giveprobono #catchafire #MLKday

      January 21, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Reply
      • Roman Polanski

        Well it is not happening in my backyard, it is too cold out there.. but the 12 year old in my basement.. now that is another story.. an X Rated Story

        January 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
      • B

        Sounds like Roman needs to give up his address so we can send the authorities there you sick F&***ING Freak! Even hinting at that garbage is bad enough.

        January 21, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • Jimbo

        Sounds like someone needs to look up Roman Polanski. That was a joke, B.

        January 22, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • flyguy

      These guys deserve nothing less than the death penalty. The johns should be sent to jail and all of their names should be published.

      January 21, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  2. M

    Well done USA good job saving the girls, life for the pimps. Amen USA great staff tam wok, hope you bust many more.

    January 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • Ajax

      A good beginning

      January 20, 2013 at 2:39 am | Reply
  3. Jesse

    Excellent work. Now only if we can get the rest of the world as proactive as the United States even Europe severely lags behind in this area.

    January 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Reply
    • thedarkelf

      Corruption is the single problem with foreign countries. They pay the cops ten times their salery to look the other way. And most do it

      January 20, 2013 at 5:50 am | Reply
      • Lucke

        Yes, this is the point: corruption. corruption it the evil that begins with the top. The very rich and the rest below. Rich govs x poor govs then the down lane to the poor guy. Denouncing the corruptness at the top would be the solution, however, that's the the hook rich govs keep them hooked for whatever purposes – see Latin America countries, Africa, so on...

        January 20, 2013 at 6:49 am |
    • Motel Hell

      hDoesn't Europe actually support and promote this stuff, though? You know, hostel's and brothel's and stuff?

      January 21, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  4. American

    And this people is Obamas immigration policy at work, let them stay, they cause no harm. BS, round every last one of them up and ship them back to whereever they came from.

    January 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • belinda

      If only we could do that to ignorant Racists, we might be able to clean up this country.

      January 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm | Reply
      • scoofer

        Racists? Like you, Belinda?

        January 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
      • Ajax

        Or fact Belinda. Although racism can be a serious problem (often from the side that claims it) it is also an easy cop-out.

        January 20, 2013 at 2:42 am |
      • thedarkelf

        He has a point and its not racist. Most were brought here in an attempt to enter the US illegally and this is how they pay for their passage. They were trying to come here illegally from the start so I agree send them back we have enough problems right now to deal with

        January 20, 2013 at 5:53 am |
      • Max

        I have to agree with Belinda on this one. Many of you hide behind the computer and make racist comments and cover it up with immigration. Just a reminder!! Did you know that your ancestors are immigrants too? I understand there is a way to make legal passage but the situation that these girls have gone thru is horrendous. This immigration policy about victims of human trafficking does not come from Obama. It comes from the immigratiion policy before his term. I think you should better do your research before you open your MOUTH!

        January 20, 2013 at 8:10 am |
      • sammie

        Exactly, Belinda...

        January 21, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • bunch of idiots

        How exactly does this make belinda racist? You are an idiot dude.

        January 21, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
      • Beff "Skunk" Jaxter

        Well, what Belinda meant was that she wants white people rounded up and shipped off. That's why she's a racist.

        January 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • DavidInNC

      Every one who? It sounds like the majority of the victums, if not all, were not US citizens.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • Larswald

      You ignorant redneck. Why notn show them some compassion? They've been kidnapped and and raped...up to 30 times a day and all you can say is sed them back to where they came from? If this was your sister or daughter or girlfiend you might think differently.

      And try and learn to to spell and use some punctuation before you post next time. "Whereever"? Really? Your ignorance is evident in your opinon and in your spelling.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Reply
      • scoofer

        Larswald – Wow. Spell and grammar check your comment.

        January 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
      • TruthandConsequence

        Before we move too quickly to "compassion" mode, we need to understand more to what degree the women themselves put themselves in this position. If they came here illegally, they are conspirators in the violation of u.s. immigration law. If they put themselves under the control of these pimps in order to hide their illegal entry – even if they did not know they were pimps, these women bear some responsibility for putting themselves in this situation. If they are illegals, letting them stay in the u.s. only rewards them for their bad decisions and in most cases, the truly compassionate thing to do is to send them back to their families South of the Border. But, I would expect some of these gals may be looking more at lenience for their foolishness than for compassion in putting them back together with their families.

        January 20, 2013 at 2:06 am |
      • sb

        American = Scoofer.

        @ Scoofer – Its difficult not to call an idiot an idiot. Its difficult to argue with an idiot of your standing. Also there is a saying .....What makes a third fool....the one who argues with first two fools....... you bet, I am the third fool.

        January 20, 2013 at 2:44 am |
      • thedarkelf

        Is everyone who doesnt agree with you a racist? These ladies didnt not have to try to come here illegally. But they did and then the Coyotes pimp them out to pay their way. Thats is not our fault and letting mentally damaged people into our country does no good. These victims will victimize someone else at some point it is statically proven.

        January 20, 2013 at 5:57 am |
      • rebuttal

        'Put themselves into the position' 'Compassion mode' How is slavery justified by a possible bad decision? If I decide to say drink and drive which is against the law, and that somehow led to me being locked up and raped 30x per day would it be my fault?
        Not to mention that many of these girls never had a choice.
        Your logic is heartless.
        Think again.

        January 20, 2013 at 11:06 am |
      • rebuttal

        Truth
        I understand your point but these girls are not the problem.
        similar logic is used for other kinds of rape. 'she was asking for it wearing that dress'
        The amount of trauma that these women go through it is right that the 'anti human trafficking laws put them in a position to not be further punished for thier enslavement.
        They need justice and if we are going to intervene on other human rights violations throughout the world it should be common sense to do the same for these women and offer them help after they have been rescued.
        Deporting them justifies the idea that they are stuck in their position and if they do get the chance to escape they will be afraid to contact authorities. We need them to be confident that we will not turn on them when they do. Its a good law!

        January 20, 2013 at 11:13 am |
      • sammie

        Bless your heart, you're an idiot, Truth

        January 21, 2013 at 11:09 am |
      • chaz

        While the women in question are without a doubt victims of rape, they more than likely to hold some responsibility for the situation that they ended up in. Whether they were ignorant or not in regards to what would eventually happen to them, logic would dictate that they knew that they were coming to this country illegally. Yes, you are absolutely correct; my ancestors were in fact immigrants to this great country, many of which came here nearly four hundred years ago. As such, I know that my ancestors have fought in every single war that this country has been involved in (including me) and many were educators , doctors, engineers, career military, and farmers. My anceestors didn't come here illegally nor ever put their hands out or exploit this country. They are some of the people that helped settle unsettled lands, fight the enemies of our nation, and build our nation up. I simply don't see the same with most illegal immigrants. What I do see with illegal immigrants are individuals who take more than they give and ultimately bring down the quality of life for the legal residents and citizens of this great nation. Granted some of the them do pay taxes and unfortunately getting an income tax refund is an impossibility, however, what about all of the money spent on jailing, hospitalizing and educating those who put very little into the system.

        January 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • idiot

      You are a grade A moron.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Reply
      • Bdub78

        When I grow up I'm going to bovine university!

        January 20, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Fleur

      I bet some of the men that used these women are fine upstanding US citizens. What about them? Do these men really imagine that this is what these girls and women want? Any man who uses these people is just as bad as the traffickers. If they did not use the services the traffickers would be out of business.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Reply
      • TruthandConsequence

        Just like drugs...

        January 20, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Katie

      American loser you are afraid to say who you really are. Perhaps all of this started with NAFTA and George H.W. Bush. Maybe just maybe it,s the oldest profession in the world.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Reply
      • Disgrunteled American

        Your idiot card is showing!!NAFTA was started by Bill Clinton!Hillary even said in one of here campaign speaches thet NAFTA was their IDEA!!

        January 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
      • DonnaB

        NAFTA was created by George Bush, Sr. It was signed into law by Bill Clinton. It was intended for trade with Mexico and Canada only. Then Bush Jr. seized upon the situation, and viola, American jobs went overseas, and the repubs. got alot richer.

        January 20, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • Jessica

      Your conservative compassion is showing "American".

      January 19, 2013 at 10:05 pm | Reply
    • Deee

      You obviously haven't read the executive order, or noticed that these were federal immigration agents bringing down these guys. Next time engage your brains before you type.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 pm | Reply
    • Bhar

      Where do the Johns go to?

      January 20, 2013 at 1:37 am | Reply
      • Rick

        Back to their wives who don't know.

        January 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Alf Z

      All these women have known is hell on earth. I think they should be given an opportunity for a better life here or wherever they wish to go. It's not your call.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:08 am | Reply
      • Victim

        I understand what all of you are saying but I also want to point out that some of these girls did not try to enter here illegally. Some were kipnapped for the purpose of being pimped. Some women were sold like cattle and in their culture it is acceptable. These women don't have a choice. They do not know what it is to be free. For these cases, would you also agree to send them packing back to a country where the are sure to be victimized again. The is not an issue or immigration. It is an issue of humanity and human rights.

        January 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Max

      American,

      Why do you hid behind that name?? Let me ask you something. What have you done for this country? Slept with your cousin?? or made moonshine??? Have you fought for your freedom? YOU HAVENT DONE NOTHING!! So shut the *#^$* up! I bet i have done a lot more than you have. Im fighting for my country so that lame people like you can talk what ever they feel like. If i could on see you face to face!!!

      January 20, 2013 at 8:19 am | Reply
      • Tom

        Max you are so right on, this moron has not ever done anything but shout his completely moronic mouth off. He gets all of his talk from the big mouth rush and the even dumber fox news he knows nothing but what he hears from other morons

        January 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
      • sammie

        Touche' Max

        January 21, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Rusty

      83% of all human trafficking victims in the United States are American citizens. Please stop diverting attention from this serious issue.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Reply
    • Rusty

      83% of all human trafficking victims in the U.S. are American citizens. Please stop diverting the conversation from human trafficking.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Reply
  5. snowdogg

    arrest the johns also

    January 19, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
    • thanos

      If they arrest all of the johns there won't be any men left in these small towns.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      That will be just more jobs for the women to fill!If all the guys are in jail!and will give you a better chance at getting a girlfriend!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Reply
  6. Nonny Muss

    GREAT JOB! Keep up the good work..Go after the JOHNS as well..When you press charges against these slimeballs make it stick so that they dont see day light for a very long time...

    January 19, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  7. jaysmot

    I bet they get smaller sentences then a drug dealer.....give these guys the death sentence...

    January 19, 2013 at 7:06 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      AWWW are you upset about the amount of time you got on your last conviction!!!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Reply
      • Earthling

        Buddy, you are one of the most ignorant people it has ever been my displeasure to encounter. Every one of your comments on here is completely devoid of compassion, understanding, and basic English language skills. Do yourself a favor and get an education. And while you're at it, try to imagine what your favorite religious icon would think of a POS like you.

        January 20, 2013 at 1:53 am |
      • RickInNY

        Disgrunteled? ROFL, m0r0n!

        January 20, 2013 at 4:17 am |
  8. jfc1

    Sounds like a mess all around. Offering them PR in exchange for testifying against their captors? LOL

    gee what else can we bribe criminals with, to get them to turn on each other?

    January 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Reply
  9. Dave Harris

    This sort of makes you wonder what goes on in Mexico. At least we have laws here.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • Captain

      check out TRANCE-FORMATION OF AMERICA by Cathy O'Brien and Mark Philips – or Cathy on youtube. There are reasons American children disappear. And why single parents in USA are targeted with false abuse charges to 'legally acquire' more kids. So unbelivable – which is why Bush et al have been getting away with it. Grrrrrrrrr.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Reply
      • Disgrunteled American

        I agree they should be allowed to at least have a chance at citizen ship BUT! I am a American Indian!!Sooo what country are you originally from ????

        January 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Disgrunteled American

      Sounds like you must of had your Kids taken away !!LOL

      January 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  10. toney

    American: you are not an american you should be deported back to your country of origin- only native americans can voice who should be deported or not...these women should be given permanent status-they have suffered enough!

    January 19, 2013 at 7:30 pm | Reply
    • Jeff

      I'm American.....anyone here illegally should have all their assets seized (gained through illegal means) and deported immediately. Simple.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:32 am | Reply
  11. Captain

    When will they arrest Bush Sr, and Jr, and most of Congress for what they have done to children?? Search/ Read: TRANCE-FORMATION OF AMERICA by Cathy O'Brien and Mark Philips – or see Cathy's bit on youtube. She was used for years by Regan and Bush. Worse to be revealed.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      Yea right ! go back to sleep libral!!anybody with a job is getting the screws put to them by this current administration!I had a job making $25.00 before he was elected now Im making barely $10.00 amd most of my friends if working at all is making $8.00 talk about being used!and they still upped my taxes?????

      January 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Reply
      • Ed T Duck

        If you are earning that little, I seriously doubt they upped your taxes. Federal taxes that is.

        January 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
      • RickInNY

        It's the payroll tax that still went up, Ed. And yes, it definitely makes a difference to the ex-middle class.

        January 20, 2013 at 4:20 am |
  12. kathleen burgess

    Are these girls all illegal aliens or girls who have been kidnapped from America or elsewhere?

    January 19, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      This jsut in ! They found out most of the johns are Demercrats!!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Reply
      • sammie

        You're not even literate, disgruntled....

        And whoever told you that you were American Indian lied.. they meant American Idiot

        January 21, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  13. justsaying

    Aah! The conservative deep south states of fl, ga, nc and sc.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  14. James

    A moron wrote this story. And a moron did not proof read it. CNN Libs...dumb as dirt.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  15. JC in KC

    Thank you so much for freeing these women and catching these men!!!! I could only hope the destiny for these criminals will be a sorry sad lot for a life that they put these women/children through. There is not a punishment great enough even death wouldn't be sufficient for the crime they have committed against these women. I can only hope these women can find a life after this. Again thank you.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  16. robert

    Good job they ought to pay those guys an gals more for putting thier lives on the line day in an out.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Reply
  17. J100409

    Now, if we would only take all the law enforcement efforts being used to interfere with voluntary drug possession and use them to work on human trafficking we could stamp it out completely. (And end the War on Drugs without needing to pay severance to the entire DEA.)

    January 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • Stephen

      Thats a libral way of thinking!as long as there is money to be made and as long as there is someone who will believe a lie This will go on!Its great that they shut this down but there are dirty cops as well as corrupt officials who sell out operations like this all the time!Once the bad guys figure out who they need to buy out the number of arrest and shut downs will demenish!Of course we all must try for the girls and boys sakes!These crooks are in prisons as guards,police forces,etc as long as money is to be made someone will sell their soul for a buck or do it to protect their family!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply
    • JK

      When they legalize any drugs, the dealers turn to other crimes and human trafficking is one of the first on their list. It will get worse if we eliminate their current illegal sources of income.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:05 am | Reply
  18. Toolttime

    So did they deport the girls back to their countries?

    January 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply
    • RickInNY

      So, did you happen to read the story?

      January 20, 2013 at 4:23 am | Reply
  19. aktap

    Man I hope these kids get to stay in America, I'd say they've earned a green card in the most brutal way one can!

    January 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  20. Harry

    So strong ,when a measure of justice (which does not exist ) is delivered in this life.Kudos to all LEO's involved in operation.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  21. Nunuv Yurbiz

    Great, there goes my plans for tonight.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  22. Brandon

    Always glad to see stories like this!! Put them away for life, or even better, just execute them and save the taxpayers the money.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      The librals wont let you exacute them because thets just one less vote for obumma!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Reply
      • Tom

        you are dumber then dirt. Go back to watching fox un news. You know where they re educate people like you in the following way, Cut a hole in your head remove your brain shove it up your ass and say I'm all done now and I now know everything

        January 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  23. JC

    Wonderful success story! I'm glad to know that these women won't be deported, will be able to stay to testify against the slime that kept them captive, and will be eligible to stay here legally. That's a real happy ending. Thanks to law enforcement for a job well done!

    January 19, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Reply
    • TruthandConsequence

      That's not law enforcement! If they allow even one illegal alien to stay, it is a reward for their foolish decisions to come here illegally and to put themselves at risk of being taken advantage of. Law enforcement would be heavy jail time for the perps and deportation for the victims. I also would not mind seeing a liberal dose of arrests of the johns and others who supported this activity.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:14 am | Reply
  24. Yun

    Why is that dude standing between the officer and guy in a suit in a Ghost Buster's outfit? Anyways great job!

    January 19, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      you are not syco you are just a sad 8 year old!

      January 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply
  25. syco

    Here we go again blah blah blah la la la we know it all

    January 19, 2013 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  26. syco

    ???

    January 19, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  27. Scott

    This is what we get for letting millions of immigrants into this country so fast. Over close to 100 million in 40 years. They bring their values and morals here, instead of assimilating to what was once a decent culture, that was making progress with Martin Luther King. But Dumo, Peloser and Reed, want to try to legalize them all.

    The US is going down in flames.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Reply
    • Disgrunteled American

      you can blame the dems for that one!one more vote to buy!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Reply
    • Dee

      Assimilating a culture built from people from almost all continents.. including those central Americans from our own continent. Your bigotry speaks volumes about your ability to contribute to the future of the U.S. Get out while you can! Please!

      January 19, 2013 at 11:33 pm | Reply
      • TruthandConsequence

        Please do not use that tired old "bigotry" word. In a country which has more legal immigration than the rest of the world combined, "bigotry" is hardly the word for someone who thinks we may be overdoing it.

        January 20, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • TheMan

      They took urrrrrrrrrrrrr jobs.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:46 am | Reply
  28. syco

    !!!

    January 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  29. Disgrunteled American

    Its true The hispanics will sell their own just to get ahead,This is a fact not a prejudus!look at the number of these placesa being shut down and look at the names of the people who are heading it up!The Russians how ever are as bad! in Columbus Ohio almost all the strip clubs are now owned by the russian mob!They are not afraid to kill anybody who gets in their way! or costs them a Dollar!

    January 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
    • TheMan

      And most serial killers are caucasian - there I matched you in an i_norant comment.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:47 am | Reply
  30. Sand

    Each state should impose the death penalty for human trafficking. These monsters should die for pretty much murdering these girls and women emotionally and physically.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Reply
    • Mortran

      We actually need the death penalty for people who post such nonsense.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Reply
    • sammie

      Agreed, Sand

      January 21, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
  31. Scott

    Cnn is part of the problem.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Reply
  32. Jimh77

    This is what Law Enforcement is all about. Good Job all!! Keep at it and shut them all down!.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Reply
  33. Tom Hunter

    tee hee...

    It's no easy task when you consider that each location had to be hit at precisely the same time. Arrive at one house a few seconds early, and the operation is blown.

    January 19, 2013 at 10:43 pm | Reply
    • talesfromthemotherland

      Seriously? Grow up. If you had the smallest clue about what this is all about, you'd realize just how disgusting this comment is.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:07 am | Reply
    • Jeff

      Was that a pun?

      January 20, 2013 at 8:28 am | Reply
  34. Eddie

    You know they are going to put this in a movie...

    January 19, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Reply
  35. Dee

    Reading the ignorance here, ti's no wonder we have problems. Liberals and conservatives alike take advantage of these victims of violence to further their own agendas. These are peoples' daughters. Get a grip on your selfishness for half a second. And in so doing, make a better country.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm | Reply
    • RickInNY

      Unfortunately, I think it's still going to get far worse, before it gets better.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:28 am | Reply
  36. talesfromthemotherland

    Great job on the part of the investigators and agents. This needs to be addressed much more seriously here and abroad.

    However, CNN needs to do some serious work on editing. The writing is and editing is so poorly done, that some "paragraphs" are very hard to read and understand. This story deserves more attention to detail.

    January 20, 2013 at 12:04 am | Reply
  37. Still Better Than Some

    at least they didn't bust a *** torture dungeon. like certain civilization we know of.

    January 20, 2013 at 12:34 am | Reply
  38. Jerry

    Good work! Round-up and deport all these illegal alien pimps and hoes: protect the jobs of American pimps & hoes!

    January 20, 2013 at 1:07 am | Reply
  39. mcalleyboy

    Make sure to send them back to what ever Latin country they belong.

    January 20, 2013 at 3:23 am | Reply
    • sammie

      LOL.. this..from some Irish trash named mcalley..

      January 21, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
  40. SinCity

    Its funny but there are many of there girls who want this. I dont agree with it but there are deffinitly many out there who say they like the job and money this is true I know some personally

    January 20, 2013 at 4:16 am | Reply
    • sammie

      Another moron heard from...

      January 21, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
    • whit

      wow. um. okay. I think you're thinking of women who are there by 'choice.' these women obviously weren't there by choice, but were forced, not seeing any money or anything from their labor. Those were the women that were rescued.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Reply
  41. barbarianofgor

    I say we should vow to go on Jury Duty and "Nullify" any charges brought.

    Know why? Coz we are ALL slaves to the New World Order.

    They do nothing when they close plants to move jobs overseas and when the local Generalismo demands far more in bribes than the 'Savings' of having a barefoot 6 year old girl chained to a floor in a ramshackle factory do the work that used to be semi-automated in America, the CEO gets tax breaks and subsidies out of American's unemployement insurance. Bridges collapse so the CEO gets a tax break to pay for his 15th mansion. Illegals flood the few jobs not outsourced, including into the business and clerical ones. And few will get married today due to anti-male divorce laws.

    So we are all slaves to the NWO. Let some men have some fun. These ladies get a free ticket to scab jobs in the USA, as per the vid. And they'll steal millions in tax money for this scam, excuse me sting, then trials and jailing all the other people, and we will pay it.

    I say "Jury Nullification". Let them bust tons of illegal labor employers. Let them expose and bust somehow the CEO who sends jobs overseas. Let them work hard and bust the lady that fakes an abuse charge to destroy her husband when she gets bored of them. Until then, we should not care about this form of "Trafficking" might be good for a "Rise" in ratings if you get the joke, but it's a small part of the picture.

    January 20, 2013 at 4:29 am | Reply
  42. Gaylord

    Fighting Communism...

    God and Democracy

    January 20, 2013 at 5:44 am | Reply
  43. Jt_flyer

    Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
    Southern man
    Better keep your head
    Don't forget
    What your good book said

    January 20, 2013 at 6:35 am | Reply
  44. nlssy

    It's good to see authorities taking action. All over the world, women are being tracifficked and even the latest Hollywood movies are not doing enough to promote the reality of this. EX: Taken and also the other women that Naomi Watts acted in with the Russian mafia. NGO's around the world must unite to fight this,and world leaders must create more sutainable economies to feed its people.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:52 am | Reply
  45. Most Know

    If this is not the biggest "fluff" piece I have seen to promote police I do not know what is. This is sounds great, "as the sun is rising on another wonderful day in the US good guys save damsels and put black hat behind bars".
    The truth is much more complex then that and CNN actually in many ways has made the situation worse with their Stop Slavery campaign.

    January 20, 2013 at 7:22 am | Reply
  46. ZysPsyk

    These arrests are just really an attempt at democrat voter suppression.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:06 am | Reply
    • Rick

      No, the democrats are opening their curtains, watching and wondering why their local pastor is getting arrested.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:42 am | Reply
  47. Jennie

    I just hope that part of the services offered to the women has some counseling or even an rehab type program. Something to teach them life skills and learn that they ARE valuable and have meaning and a purpose in life.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:09 am | Reply
    • Mortran

      Do you think an office job is a purpose?
      These women are better up than you will ever be.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Reply
      • Alloy264

        Then join them, Mortran....

        January 21, 2013 at 11:19 am |
      • bunch of idiots

        HA HAH Mortran Im sure you would know. Why dont you go suck more c*ck to pay for your meth habbit? Trailer trashhhhhhhh

        January 21, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • One

      I'm happy to say that there are. That is part of the reason they are given the opportunity to stay in the country- so that they may receive the help they need.

      January 22, 2013 at 10:02 am | Reply
  48. Dark tater

    F a war on drugs... they should nix that nonsense at $1 billion a year and put all those cops on a beat like this, At least the a war on slavery is noble and has a benefit for all. Good job boys, something I rarely say to cops.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply
  49. Jeff

    "The woman inside is believed to a victim of a human trafficking"...I stopped reading after this. Geezuz CNN you are clueless.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • Twobit

      ....said the clueless man.

      January 21, 2013 at 11:20 am | Reply
  50. Sang

    I am a "John." This story worries me in the sense that I will have to use more caution seeing a provider. In Los Angeles I frequent an establishment that has beautiful Korean girls providing full service. Services often include bbbj, RIM, and CIM. I know how bad this all is, however, I just can't resist the temptation. Anyone else on this board share the love of this hobby?

    January 20, 2013 at 9:21 am | Reply
    • You just wait...

      Hey sang, hope you get caught up in the next big dragnet and your name and face are published in the local news and your life is destroyed (or maybe the girl's family finds her while you're with her and they make an example out of you and post it on youtube). And really it's only a matter of time before you reap what you've sown, one way or another.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • ziggywiggy

      another TROLL... this page is infected with them HEY CNN pay attention!

      January 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  51. aspblom

    The consequences of illegal immigration and of "liberals'" and evangelical leaders having supported it.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:21 am | Reply
  52. Isma'il

    I vision an America, a Wolrd were these types of crime are punished with death, in town squard within 1-2 years of conviction.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:24 am | Reply
  53. Nam

    those policeman should really get medals

    January 20, 2013 at 10:32 am | Reply
  54. Punisher

    The police should not be so quick to destroy the operation. After they get the victims to safety, they should
    make it appear to be open for business.....Think of all the johns they could catch, maybe even some of the
    racist idiot's on this post.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply
  55. Lindalou

    people profiting from another's degradation is just wrong...let them experience the same!

    January 20, 2013 at 11:10 am | Reply
    • Mortran

      Yes, the police officers should be treated the same way they treat these innocent people.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:15 pm | Reply
      • ziggywiggy

        TROLL...waste of space

        January 21, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  56. PGJack

    Prosecute and publish names and photographs of the "Johns". If you want to put a real dent in this awful crime cut the demand. The chance that a man's name and picture might appear on the front page of the local paper as being a customer of this awful crime would discourage those who might purchase the opportunity to abuse these unfortunate women.

    January 20, 2013 at 11:13 am | Reply
    • Mortran

      You are welcome to publish my picture. What do you expect to achieve with that? I'm not married. I'm not a hypocrite like your kind,
      If somebody gets abused here, it is the customers who are charged exaggerated prices in the U.S.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  57. Bdub78

    You can prosecute these people all day everyday and it won't stop. Nevada has the right idea.

    January 20, 2013 at 11:42 am | Reply
  58. john

    thanks a lot, now all the women's family have been killed

    January 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  59. Sacre Bleu

    The time has come to face reality. The time has come to accept facts. Most importantly, the time has come to make changes. India, for generations, has been dragging the region down. The culture is medieval, the values are barbaric and the economy is in shambles. An implosion is necessary and the need is immediate. Let us bring this relic down and erase the memories of poverty and extremism.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Reply
  60. kgjinbin

    It's tragedy in west country, besides in poor africa

    January 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  61. Hao So

    $30 a pop in Georgia is not plausible. The market rate is +3x that, real traffickers would not leave that much money behind.
    story= fake

    January 21, 2013 at 7:59 am | Reply
  62. Insatiable F

    Great news to be able to shut down an operation like this. Check out this new film which talks about trafficking in San Francisco. http://www.insatiablefilm.com.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Reply
  63. palintwit

    Wonder if the same thing goes on in those teabagger trailer parks south of the Mason-Dixon line.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Reply
    • abnguy

      From the article it appears that it is a illegal alien problem primarily. That would make them liberals and Democrats.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  64. burbanktj

    The penalties for human traffickers should be enormous. Honestly, I wouldn't be against the death penalty especially considering how many lives they ruin.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • abnguy

      It all seems tied to the unsecured border, secure it and deport all illegals. Make it easier to get a work card for peopel from other countries.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  65. Kamil Zawadzki

    Reblogged this on Outspoken and commented:
    Wow..

    January 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  66. bunch of idiots

    EVERYONE ARGUING IN THIS THREAD IS AN IDIOT. And can go suck a big bag of d*cks

    January 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  67. Angelo

    Darn it. The girls provided excellent service for a reasonable amount of money. Now I will have to find another service provider in Savannah. Why are they wasting their time on this? couldn't they go after murderers.

    January 21, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • ziggywiggy

      perverted TROLL hope your tiny member rots

      January 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  68. bunch of idiots

    Angelo, considering everyone here sucks d*cks, im sure you can find replacement service for better dollar value.

    January 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  69. ApaChipa

    Good job by the Feds! But this is probably the tip of the iceberg. The pimps should be raped in return – as payback for what they put those girls through. Send all these damn illegals back. And never let them in the USA again.

    January 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  70. Baksa

    Excellent. I hope the girls are able to stay in the U.S. and build meaningful lives. I hope this "El Flaco" gets punished to the full extent of the law and spends the rest of his days behind bars.

    January 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  71. ziggywiggy

    is there anyone actually screening this comments? cause I've seen a couple that are pretty disgusting.....Roman Polanski

    January 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  72. stiefelgeiss

    I wonder how much of this would go away if every major city had a legal brothel? Granted, when it's legal, you pay a heck of a lot more than $30, but not having to deal with cops is worth the $350+/hr. rate. As a general rule, if a girl doesn't cost $200/hr. at the discounted minimum in a stagnant market, isn't in a $100+ outfit, chatting about the cover of the New York Times, talking about some new little bistro or boutique, or has some definite opinions on wine regions, you don't want to be involved in that anyway... Making things legal attenuates the violence and suffering created by prohibition. There are plenty of girls who would rather not work for peanuts in dead-end chump jobs when they could stroke men's ids and egos for over $100,000/ yr. There'd be no need to traffic anyone if it were legal.

    January 21, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  73. abnguy

    Seems like if we deport the illegal aliens and protect the borders better we would solve most of these problems. It is hard to believe many would let these women suffer because they want an open border.

    January 21, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Reply
    • One

      If illegal immigration was the root of this, then what is the explanation for states like Washington, in which the number of illegal immigrants is very few comparatively, yet the stats for human trafficking is extremely high? And what is the explanation for the trade that was already active decades before (modern) illegal immigration was even issue? The truth is that this is a far bigger, more complex issue than we would like to admit, so we want to contain it into a form we can wrap our minds around and find an easy solution for. The truth is that this is NOT a political issue. It's a social, moral issue.

      January 22, 2013 at 9:54 am | Reply
  74. ARROW004

    Them holes will take a couple of weeks off on your tax dollars and be right back on the streets again doing the same thing all over again.

    January 21, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Reply
    • Lee

      I doubt that very much. I suspect they'll get some very long prison sentences...assuming of course that the state doesn't somehow screw up the prosecution.

      January 22, 2013 at 12:37 am | Reply
  75. juaninamillion

    This is illegal aliens serving illegal aliens. Cottage industry. Obama wants to legalize illegals so that more will want to come in.

    January 22, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
  76. Leslie

    I feel sick reading some of the posts on here. Its shameful to see people add more disgustingness to an already disgusting problem, and soil the happy day of its ending with their foul words. I am just thankful to see justice done to the criminals who ran the operation, praise given to the officers and agencies that ended it, and help given to the ladies that were victims. I hope these women heal and find happiness one day.

    January 22, 2013 at 10:46 am | Reply
  77. expires soon

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    January 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  78. spacecalculus

    “When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.”
    ― Thomas Jefferson

    January 25, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  79. jdabbas

    Reblogged this on J. D. Abbas and commented:
    A little more justice. A little more hope.

    January 26, 2013 at 1:34 am | Reply
  80. professor

    Give me a break. Most of these women knew EXACTLY what they were doing when they came to America. They calculated a few years on their backs and they would be granted citizenship and never have to lift a finger for the rest of their pathetic lives. How is this any different than the way women in this country behave? Lay down for it, give it away for free for a few years and then you are on easy streak with a pension and lifetime sinecure- and you never have to put out again. The work is not so bad if you can get it. While we cry for these "victims" we laugh about all the men being brutally violated in prison. Ha Ha! Don't pick up the soap. I am sick of the double standards, the weeping for "victims" most of whom are equally at fault with the men so many of you want to execute.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  81. Pepe Fernandez

    I wonder if CNN has any pics of the little lolitas!!!! I got $30 I can spare!!!!!

    February 15, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Reply
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    Roman Polanski was imprisoned since September when he entered Switzerland’s Zuric Airport for accepting an award. He is not only accused of raping an underage girl of 13 years but also is accused of escaping from the US police since 1978. If the charges against him are proved then he might face severe penalty like extradition. The director though has escaped all charges and has moved freely in different parts of Europe like any other independent citizens, now he will have to defend himself from the charges against him if he wants to live freely rest of his life...

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