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22 accused of running human trafficking ring in N.J. for past six years

22 accused of running human trafficking ring in N.J. for past six years

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday announced the arrest and charges for 22 alleged members of an international human trafficking ring based in Bergen County that would force women into sexual slavery, and had operated in the county for as many as six years, authorities said.

In a virtual press conference Thursday, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced that 22 people were arrested and charged for their alleged involvement in the human trafficking ring that victimized more than 50 people, many of them Mexican immigrants, by forcing them into prostitution. More than 1,500 clients of the forced prostitution were identified, said Robert Anzilotti, the office’s Chief of Detectives.

Through a months-long sting, dubbed “Operation Hope in Darkness,” the Prosecutor’s Office arrested 21 people and charged them with multiple crimes that include prostitution, racketeering, money laundering and human trafficking.

On Wednesday morning, more than 100 detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office executed 19 search warrants in Bergen and Hudson Counties, and arrested 21 people.