ATLANTA - Four Norcross men pleaded not guilty Monday to charges they allegedly trafficked 10 females from Mexico - including several minors - into the metro area to serve as prostitutes against their will, officials said.
Amador Cortes-Meza, 34, Juan Cortes-Meza, 31, Francisco Cortes-Meza, 25, Raul Cortes-Meza, 21 - all of Mexico and living in Norcross - are named in a 31-count indictment which charges them with human trafficking and related offenses, according to U.S. Justice Department spokesman Patrick Crosby. A fifth man, Edison Wagner Rosa Tort, 69, of Uruguay and living in Cartersville, was also indicted.
All five men face federal charges of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, importing women for the purpose of prostitution, and harboring and shielding aliens for commercial advantage and private gain, according to a Justice Department news release.
Juan Cortes-Meza, Amador Cortes-Meza and Raul Cortes-Meza are specifically charged with sex trafficking of minors. Juan Cortes-Meza, Amador Cortes-Meza and Francisco Cortes-Meza are also charged with smuggling aliens into the U.S.
A trial date has not been announced, Crosby said.
According to the indictment, at least 10 women, including three minors, were coerced into prostitution through beatings and threats.
Amador Cortes-Meza, Juan Cortes-Meza and Francisco Cortes-Meza allegedly would promise to become the young woman's boyfriend and find them a job in exchange for her agreement to be smuggled into the U.S., prosecutors say.
The agreement, though, was a ruse.
After transporting the women from the border to residences in Norcross and Cartersville, the trio, - in addition to Rosa Tort - allegedly beat the women and threatened their families back in Mexico in order to force them to work as prostitutes, according to the Justice Department. Some women were not allowed to leave the house unaccompanied.
Rosa Tort and Raul Cortes-Meza allegedly drove the women to various places where between 20 and 30 men a night paid to have sex with them for $25, the majority of which was kept by the traffickers, according to the Justice Department.
The case is being investigated by special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with assistance from the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department, the Gwinnett County Police Department's special investigations vice unit, and the Bartow County Task Force.