Authorities have arrested one of the top 10 most wanted human traffickers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Thursday.
According to ICE, Paulino Ramirez-Granados has been on its most wanted list since 2010. He’s been charged in the Eastern District of New York with sex trafficking, money laundering and conspiracy to import aliens.
Following a joint investigation between Homeland Security Investigations and Mexican enforcement agencies, Granados was arrested in Tenancingo, Mexico on March 31.
“The sexual exploitation of human beings is one of the vilest crimes committed against humanity,” ICE Director Sarah R. Saldaña said Thursday, going on to commend the Mexican authorities for assisting in the apprehension of Granados.
ICE reports that the investigation into Granados’ sex trafficking organization began after one of his victims was referred to HSI by a nongovernmental organization.
“The victim had been smuggled into the United States and forced into prostitution in June 2000 by a member of the Granados family. She provided a detailed account of the physical and sexual assaults she suffered by a member of the Granados organization and threats made to the safety of her children when she said she no longer wanted to work as a prostitute,” ICE’s release explained.
HSI went on to rescue 25 other trafficking victims, all Mexican nationals. According to ICE, the Granados organization threatened harm to all their victims’ families. Some were sexually and physically abused by their traffickers.
“Members of the Granados family would befriend or romance young, uneducated women before pressuring them or coercing them into prostitution in Mexico,” ICE’s release recounted. “They would then smuggle their victims into the United States and transport them to the New York City area to work as prostitutes.”
“Granados family members would take all money earned by the victims and maintain control over the victims through physical and sexual abuse and threats of harm to the victims’ families,” it continued. “Several of the victims had children with their traffickers and were threatened with the loss of their children if they did not continue to work as prostitutes and earn money for the Granados family.”
Thirteen members of the Granados organization have been indicted on sex trafficking charges, another twelve have been arrested and one, Raul Granados-Rendon, is still a fugitive, according to ICE.