Mexican Police Break Up Alleged Sex Slavery Ring
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Mexican authorities say they have cracked an organized crime ring that lured 1,200 Mexican women into prostitution in Japan during a 14-month period, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported today.
The ring was connected to four Mexican cities, including Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego, and it had an office in Buena Park, Calif., officials said. Operations also may have extended to Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil.
``This is an international white slavery ring,″ Antonio Torres Miranda, commander of the State Judicial Police in Tijuana, said Thursday.
Two Japanese men who were believed to be leaders of the ring were arrested last week in Guadalajara, police said. They were identified as Shuitsu Sato, 45, and Isamu Fujii.
An additional 13 remain at large in Japan and the United States and are believed to be employees of Reox Co., a Japanese company police described as a front for the prostitution ring.
The women ranged in age from 18 to 30 and were lured to Japan by promises of glamorous jobs, Torres said.
``They were taken by trickery,″ he said. ``They were told they were going to be performing artists, singers or dancers, and make lots of money.″
On arriving in Japan, the women realized they were duped. Japanese law allows Mexicans to enter the country as tourists without a visa but does not allow them to hold jobs without a visa and a work permit.
``They were obliged to become prostitutes,″ Torres said, adding their supposed benefactors became their pimps.
Officials first became suspicious in December when they noticed an unusually large number of young Mexican women entering Japan on tourist visas.
Confirmation came when ``three of the young women escaped from these circumstances and went to the Mexican Embassy in Tokyo to file complaints,″ Torres said.
The newspaper quoted a source as saying that the alleged masterminds of the scheme have ties to the yakuza, Japan’s powerful organized crime syndicates.
The yakuza are among the world’s oldest gang syndicates, specializing in drug trafficking, extortion and prostitution. The word ``yakuza″ means ``good for nothing″ in Japanese.