SACRAMENTO, CA - FBI agents have broken up a prostitution ring that included brothels from Stockton to Chico and arrested three people for harboring illegal aliens.
A federal criminal complaint dated Jan. 15 highlights a two-and-a-half year investigation that began with a confidential informant describing prostitution at a Stockton residence on North San Joaquin Street.
As part of what began as a human trafficking case, agents later found other brothels in Fairfield, Sacramento, Yuba City and Chico.
Most of the prostitutes were from Mexico, with others from Central America and as far away as Columbia.
Roberto Urbino Gonzalez, Everardo Ibarra Regalado and Corina Dominguez were all charged with one count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and a second count of harboring an illegal alien.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI would not comment on the case, including why there were ultimately no charges filed for human trafficking or prostitition. The indictment states that each of the 3 defendants hired women out as prostitutes.
According to the criminal complaint, the women were moved from brothel to brothel at weekly intervals and were not allowed to leave; their customers typically paid $40,00 for 15 minutes of sex.
Investigators used confidential informants, some wearing tape recorders, to gather evidence.
Although it was not clear why more serious charges were not filed, women being held as prostitutes are often threatened with violence to themselves or their families if they provide any information to investigators. Making a human trafficking case generally requires proof that women were forced or coerced to come to the United States and work as prostitutes.