Eight New Jersey residents indicted including two from Asbury Park, NJ for running large scale prostitution ring
There are two Asbury Park residents among eight in New Jersey who have been indicted on first-degree racketeering and conspiracy charges for their roles in a large prostitution and human trafficking ring that spread across Monmouth and Mercer Counties, according to Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin.
The four-month investigation that uncovered this illicit activity started in December of 2021 but it was on January 21, 2022, when AG Platkin said New Jersey State Police Detectives conducted surveillance outside a home on Hudson Street in Trenton for four-and-a-half hours and watched that night "approximately 10 men enter the residence through the rear door and then exit approximately 15 to 20 minutes later."
By 9:30 pm, a man locked the gate to the residence, AG Platkin said, but the sting was just getting started as members of the State Police T.E.A.M.S. Unit, K-9 Unit, Crime Suppression Central Unit, Trenton Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement executed a search warrant on the house later that night.
AG Platkin said that when officers entered the residence they had to get past a "high-level padlock on the gate leading to the alley to the rear door, a 2x4 wood plank across the entrance door, and a sophisticated surveillance system."
As law enforcement went through the residence, they found it to be a fully extensive prostitution set-up.
AG Platkin said that law enforcement found that, "the bedrooms in the house each contained a bed, a bedside table equipped with a bottle of rubbing alcohol, paper towels, condoms and lubricant, a trash can and a chair. With the exception of suitcases in the closet and a bicycle in the juvenile’s bedroom, the bedrooms contained no personal effects. During the search, numerous items were seized, including cash and notebook ledgers containing the names of victims, followed by numbers next to each day of the week, suspected to be the number of prostitution clients that each victim saw on a given day."
Investigators learned through "Operation Hudson House" that this residence was not the only one being used for prostitution as the ring spread to a home on Prospect Street in Asbury Park and Woodland Street in Trenton.
At the Asbury Park home, AG Platkin said that law enforcement learned that this was where "men purchased poker chips entitling them to select a female for sexual activity for a specific period of time."
NJSP Detectives learned though, that regardless of the house, those who have since been indicted were running these houses of ill repute where they would take in money from those who wanted to have sex with the victims, which included a 17-year-old minor and two women held against their will who was repeatedly sexually assaulted.
As the investigation continued forward, Paulino “Pablo” Macolas-Aguirre, 43, of Trenton was identified as the alleged ringleader/boss of the human trafficking operation, according to Platkin, and he "was responsible for recruiting/luring the female victims to the operation and allegedly gave orders to the workers as to which house each woman should be assigned and when they should be relocated to another house. He was also allegedly responsible for paying the workers and victims at the end of each week, and created and distributed business cards to ensure a steady stream of customers to his enterprise."
Then, on May 11, AG Platkin said that "detectives from the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons & Human Trafficking Unit, Trenton Police Department, Asbury Park Police Department, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Fugitive Unit, and the Division of Criminal Justice executed search warrants at various residences in Trenton and Asbury Park, including Macola-Aguirre’s primary residence on Bridge Street in Trenton. As a result, two additional female victims were located. Detectives also obtained evidence of prostitution, including cash and ledgers believed to be an account of the number of prostitution clients the women saw each day."
Several involved in this prostitution ring were charged with First-degree conspiracy, racketeering, human trafficking (3 counts), promoting prostitution of a child under 18, Second-degree facilitating human trafficking (2 counts), sexual assault, and, Third-degree promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child, money laundering (3 counts).
The additional Asbury Park connection to this ring is Laura Macolas-Aguirre, 45, who lives in Asbury Park and also is the sister of Paulino Macolas-Aguirre, and Edy Villeda-Estrada, 39, who lives in Asbury Park as well.
These two, along with Daniel Camara-Bonito 55, of Trenton were in charge of managing the houses of prostitution, permitting customers inside the houses, taking money from the customers, and providing them access to the victims.
They were charged with first-degree conspiracy, racketeering, human trafficking, promoting prostitution of a child, Second-degree facilitating human trafficking, and Third-degree promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child, and money laundering.
AG Platkin said that Camara-Bonito is also charged with second-degree conspiracy and hindering apprehension (2 counts) and third-degree witness tampering.
Efran Melo-Castillo, 30, of Trenton, who drove the females to houses and outcall services, picked up food and other supplies for the houses also "allegedly paid various expenses of the enterprise, including rent to landlords for the houses, at the direction of Macolas-Aguirre."
He was charged with first-degree conspiracy, racketeering, human trafficking, promoting prostitution of a child, Second-degree facilitating human trafficking (2 counts), and Third-degree promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child, and money laundering.
AG Platkin said that Daniel Handerson Camara-Perico, 31 of Trenton, and Jose G. Camara-Perico, 30, of Trenton, sons of Camara-Bonito also drove the victims to houses and outcall services, collecting proceeds from the houses and providing the money to Macolas-Aguirre, and "allegedly monitored operations at the houses via a surveillance system accessible via a phone app."
D. Camara Perico is charged with First-degree conspiracy, racketeering, human trafficking, promoting prostitution of a child, and Third-degree promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child.
J. Camara-Perico is charged with First-degree conspiracy, racketeering, human trafficking, Second-degree facilitating human trafficking, and Third-degree: promoting prostitution, and money laundering.
AG Platkin said that Daniela Camara-Perico, 29, of Trenton, daughter of Camara-Bonito and girlfriend of Macolas-Aguirre, "allegedly engaged in witness tampering of the juvenile victim in an attempt to insulate the enterprise’s workers from criminal exposure."
She is charged with first-degree conspiracy, racketeering, Second-degree conspiracy, hindering apprehension, and Third-degree: witness tampering.
New Jersey State Police and their Missing Persons And Human Trafficking Unit along with Trenton Police and Asbury Park Police investigated this prostitution and human trafficking ring, and AG Platkin said that "Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben is prosecuting the case for the DCJ Specialized Crimes Bureau, Human Trafficking Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Valerie Butler, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and Deputy Director Derek Nececkas."
Many charged with first-degree human trafficking charge are looking at a sentence of 20 years without parole to life in state prison and a mandatory fine of not less than $25,000, according to Platkin, while the charge of promoting organized street crime "carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison, consecutive to the sentence for any underlying crime, and the other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000, and second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, and second-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000."
As for the money via fines being paid from this case, AG Platkin also added that "the mandatory fine is for direct victim services, and deposited into the “Human Trafficking Survivor’s Assistance Fund.”
“Forcing anyone - let alone a minor – to perform sexual acts for money is a despicable crime and a brutal abuse of power targeting the most vulnerable victims,” Acting Attorney General Platkin said in a written statement. “I commend the work of the investigators and prosecutors who put an end to the sexual violence brought upon a minor and women held captive out of greed, and thank the advocates and service providers who now begin the hard work of helping these survivors live past their trauma.”
"Human trafficking victims are subjected to irreprehensible physical and emotional abuse because of the manipulation and fear-based tactics used by their perpetrators," Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, said in a written statement. "This investigation shows our dedication to using every resource at our disposal to bring these criminals to justice and dismantle operations that create life-long, damage to victims. We remain committed to working with our partners to aggressively target these offenders but remind everyone to remain vigilant and report these heinous crimes to law enforcement."
Here are the Defense Attorneys announced by AG Platkin:
For Macolas-Aguirre: George Somers, Esq.
For Villeda-Estrada: Nicole Carlo, Esq.
For Camara-Bonito: Antonio Martinez, Esq.
For Jose G. Camara-Perico: Jennifer L. Gottschalk, Esq.
For Daniel Handerson Camara-Perico: Unknown
For Daniela Camara-Perico: Unknown
For Melo-Castillo: Louis A. Mangione, Jr., Esq.
For Macolas-Aguirre: Kevin A. Holleran, Esq.