Mexican law enforcement officials extradited a man to the U.S. where he faces multiple felony charges connected to sex trafficking of minors and other women. An 18-count indictment connects six men to the trafficking, human smuggling, and money laundering conspiracy.
Police in Mexico arrested Jose Miguel Melendez-Rojas in February on charges related to an 18-count indictment in the Eastern District of New York, alleging a conspiracy to commit sex-trafficking, sex-trafficking of minors, interstate prostitution, human smuggling, and money laundering. The co-conspirators include Mexican nationals with multiple deportations, according to court documents.
“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,” Peter C. Fitzhugh, special agent in charge for HSI New York, said in a written statement. “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.”
Between 2006 and July 2017. Melendez-Rojas and his five co-conspirators allegedly smuggled young women and girls from Mexico to the U.S. by promising them work. When they arrived in New York, they allegedly told the girls they must work as prostitutes, including the underage girls.
In May 2010, one of the co-conspirators, Francisco Melendez-Perez, met with Jane Doe #1, an underage female from Tecamachalco, Mexico, and began dating her. Two weeks later, the young girl moved into his home in Tenancingo, Mexico. At that time, the girl informed him she was only 14-years-old, according to a criminal complaint. In July, Francisco informed the girl they would travel to the U.S. to find work. He allegedly did not specify the type of work, Jane Doe #1 alleged.
Francisco and his aunt, “Ma Ana Perez-Rojas,” traveled to the U.S. with the young girl and attempted to cross the border. Border Patrol agents caught them on two separate crossings and returned them to Mexico under voluntary removal. In October they successfully crossed the border into Arizona and traveled to New York by coyotes, Jane Doe #1 stated in the complaint.
After they moved into an apartment, Francisco told Jane Doe #1 she had to work as a prostitute. When she refused, Francisco allegedly threatened to turn her into immigration officers who would deport her. She said she had no other choice and began working as a prostitute.
The indictment against Melendez-Rojas and the other five men alleges multiple counts of sex-trafficking of minors and sex-trafficking of adult women from Mexico. It includes two counts of sex trafficking a minor related to Jane Doe #1 and 5 and three other counts of sex trafficking Jane Doe #2, 3, and 6. The indictment also includes multiple counts of alien smuggling as the men brought the women and young girls from Mexico illegally into the U.S., the indictment states. The indictment also includes two counts related to money laundering and the distribution of proceeds of a prostitution business.
Multiple conspirators also face charges related to illegal re-entry after removal by immigration officers.
The government seeks forfeiture of assets related to the smuggling and sex-trafficking conspiracy.
“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,” Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a written statement. “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.”
If convicted of the charges in the indictment, each conspirator could face a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison, prosecutors stated.