September 20, 2018 | ° F

Police bust two brothels on neighborhood streets

Police arrested 14 people Thursday night in New Brunswick after raiding two brothels located at 57 Jersey Ave. and 298 Handy St.

The simultaneous raids of the two unrelated operations at 8:15 p.m. occurred after a month-long investigation sparked by complaints from residents, New Brunswick police Lt. J.T. Miller said.

All of the charges were related to prostitution, he said. None of the charges were related to sex trafficking.

Daphne Smith, a North Brunswick resident familiar with the area, said the number of arrests is startling.

"I'm absolutely surprised to hear about that on Handy Street. I'm used to hearing about that on Remsen Avenue," Smith said.

At 57 Jersey Ave. Oscar Hernandez, 37, of Somerset, was charged with promoting prostitution, Miller said. Luciana Alvarez, 39, of Chicago; Eloy Bortolo-Ferre, 22, of Union City; Lorena Garcia-Meza, 28, of Philadelphia; and Ruth Perez-Filpo, 30, of Newark, were charged with engaging in prostitution at the location.

Guadalupe Bautista-Cruz, 43, of New Brunswick and Enrique Balladelid, 46, of Somerset were charged with engaging in prostitution as customers at the house, Miller said.

At 298 Handy St. Bonfilio Morales, 33, of New Brunswick, was charged with promoting prostitution, Miller said.

Veronica Garcia, 32, of North Bergen; Flor Gualupe Quintero-Perez, 23, of Woodside, N.Y.; and Maricela Sandovar, 24, and Rosalba Hernandez, 23, both of Queens, N.Y., were charged with engaging in prostitution.

Two men at the house, Chander Bhan, 41, and Rajesh Kapoor, 42, both of Morganville were charged as customers with engaging in prostitution, Miller said.

The four men charged as customers were released on summonses, Miller said. Bail for the other 10 suspects was set at $7,500.

Under New Jersey state law, prostitution is defined as engaging in, offering or accepting an offer to engage in sexual activity with another person in exchange for something of economic value.

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, sex trafficking is when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the person has not attained 18 years of age.

School of Arts and Sciences junior Daphney Dupervil said the line between prostitution and trafficking is blurry, as prostitution can often be forced or coerced.

"Oftentimes, people think prostitution is something people do at their free will and they forget to think about coercion and other factors that force," Dupervil said.

Dupervil has interned with Girls Educational & Mentoring Services, an organization in New York that helps girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking.

"The issue is not legalizing prostitution. The issue is decriminalizing it," she said. "The thing about prostitution is people are going to do it regardless. Decriminalizing it leads you to think what factors in society has pushed these women to this." 

Dupervil said people leaving prostitution need security, heath safety and rehabilitation.

In the Federal Bureau of Investigation's report "Crime in the United States, 2008" an estimated 75,004 arrests were made in 2008 for prostitution and commercialized vice.

Havocscope, the online database of black market activities, estimates that $40 million is spent on prostitution in the United States daily.

Greg Flynn

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