Inside New York’s silent sex trafficking epidemic

Posted on April 16, 2018


Inside New York’s silent sex trafficking epidemic

The Prospect Heights location where two sex slaves were being held

By Yoav Gonen, Shawn Cohen, Gabrielle Fonrouge and Ruth Brown
April 16, 2018 | 2:50am

Inside a handsome brick building on a tree-lined street near Brooklyn’s Prospect Park lay one of the city’s dirtiest secrets.

As people strolled past the Prospect Heights home on their way to the park, the Brooklyn Museum or a bar where celebrated authors give readings for The New Yorker crowd, two 16-year-old girls were allegedly being kept inside as sex slaves.

For one harrowing month last year, the teens’ captors forced them to strip to their underwear, pose for ads and have sex with up to 10 johns a day, prosecutors charge.

The girls were saved when one of them escaped in July and ran to police. But they are just two of the thousands of sex slaves being trafficked under the noses of New York City residents every day, part of a silent epidemic that law enforcement is struggling to contain.

“This is going on everywhere. Down the street, in the rich neighborhood, the poor — whether you’re white, yellow, green, blue. It cuts across different ethnicities, religious backgrounds, economic backgrounds,” Laura Riso, an FBI victims specialist in New York City, tells The Post.

“It’s enormous.”

Last year, the NYPD rescued one person a week from sex slavery and busted 228 pimps while working 265 sex trafficking cases — more than double the number in 2016.

But officials know they’re just scraping the surface.

“Trafficking is a bigger problem” than what the numbers show, says Inspector Jim Klein, commander of the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Unit and a 36-year department veteran.

“I have 200-and-however-many pimps I’ve locked up. On average, a pimp is going to have at least four or five women, girls, that he’s going to be working. [And] I haven’t locked up every pimp.

“It’s modern-day slavery.”