9 accused of forcing women to join brothel

LOUISVILLE — Women who spoke no English were allegedly forced to participate in a multi-state prostitution ring and expected to have sex with 30 clients a day, six days a week, according to indictments filed in federal court.

The women worked 50 weeks each year, had no health care and were sent each week to a new location in Kentucky or Tennessee, according to the Courier-Journal, which cited indictments that were unsealed Monday.

Nine people face charges of operating a brothel and prostitution network in the case. The five who have been arraigned have entered not-guilty pleas in U.S. District Court in Greene ville, Tenn., and are being held without bond.

The defendants are accused of recruiting Spanish-speaking women who were in the country illegally and forcing them to become prostitutes.

The indictments say the women were required over a four-year period to perform services for 11 hours of the day for men at brothels located in homes in Louisville, and in the Tennessee cities of Knoxville, Morristown, Johnson City, Bristol, Kingsport and Goodlettsville.

The indictment says customers paid the defendants $30 for 15-minute sessions with the women, who in most cases had to buy condoms with their tip money.

The services were advertised by word of mouth and on business cards in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. The ads used code words such as "haircuts, flowers and appetistas" — which is slang for a snack or quick bite.

The defendants are Obdulio C. Morales, Esthela Silfa Vasquez, Reyna Rodriguez Rios, Eusebio Flores Martinez, Elda Dorali Moreno Ramirez, Rubio Trinidad Narciso, Rosa Garcia Menendez, Raymundo Sanchez-Torres and Freddy Lopez Torres.

They face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, as well as deportation.

The indictment says the defendants kept control of the women by restricting their freedom. It doesn't specify how many women allegedly worked for the defendants.

It says the defendants took genuine identification documents from the women, gave them false identities, and told them to deny their real identities if questioned by authorities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Smith in Tennessee told the newspaper she could not comment and the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville declined to comment.

Smith said she couldn't say what would become of the women or whether they would be deported.