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Santa Clara County prosecutors take down human trafficking ring

Santa Clara County prosecutors said Tuesday they just took down one of the most prolific human trafficking rings in the state.

The announcement came after 18 women were rescued from their alleged captors.

Suspects appeared in court to face dozens of charges, but police believe there could be more still on the streets.

The DA says the Rose Garden Hotel on the Alameda is where some of the sex trafficking was taking place.

The on-duty manager said he was shocked at the arrests and from hearing it was happening in his hotel.

Across the Bay Area, from Gilroy to Hayward, investigators say the 18 women were being trafficked for sex.

“It’s unprecedented,” said Scott Vanier.

He’s the lead prosecutor in the human exploitation unit and said even he was stunned by the magnitude and sophistication of the case, calling it one of the largest in California history.

“It’s an international organization. Women brought in from various parts of South America, Latin America, into the U.S. They were confined to different hotel rooms, they were told they couldn’t leave, they were subject to surveillance. They were threatened, they were coerced,” said Vanier.

In all, police arrested six men and three women, including two in Coalinga.

Some face 54 felony counts. 

One of the suspects is Paula Rodriguez’s boyfriend.

She said her boyfriend only gave his female roommates rides to different places, because that’s what friends do, and that nothing nefarious was going on.

The lawyers for some of the other suspects agree.

“They’re in shock, they’re denying all the allegations,” said Defense lawyer Emilio Martinez. “There’s a lot of things in this case that we already reviewed that we need to go a little further in. You can enjoy the show but there’s going to be a lot of motions done and I don’t think the government is going to like it.”

The DA said they believe there are still six more traffickers on the loose, and as many as 12 more victims out there.

“It’s still shocking to see what a human being can do to another human being for the purpose of having some type of financial gain,” said Perla Flores of the Coalition to End Human Trafficking. 

Prosecutors say 18 women, including a minor, are safe after months, perhaps years, of unimaginable treatment.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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