MIAMI – (CBS4) – For allegedly trafficking women for the purposes of prostitution, seven people have been arrested and faced a judge Friday.
Police said an informant led them to at least three brothels in Homestead in areas that included 800 block of Northwest Second Ave., 1200 block of North Krome Terrace and 100 block of Northeast 13th Street.
Neighbors there said they were shocked at the allegations. They say the woman accused of sex trafficking was known as “Mami” and often helped them pay their bills if they needed. She told neighbors that the men would come over to “buy food.”
But police say they were buying sex acts.
“Never think prostitution! That never crossed our mind,” said Angelina Mack who knows the suspect.
While conducting surveillance, police said they watched as male migrant workers met with a house manager at the door known as a “Cuidador,” who acted as a gatekeeper.
That person would collect money from the customers and then escort them inside where female prostitutes were allegedly housed.
“But you could never tell because she cooked food there,” said Edward Mack who knows the suspect. “I know guys get out of work and they come buy food from her. Whatever they were doing on the inside, that is their business. I don’t know!”
Customers stayed inside for an average of seven to 20 minutes, according to the police report. An undercover officer would approach customers after they left the alleged brothel who told them that there was a prostitute working inside.
A woman was often brought in on a Monday and would work as a prostitute for the week and then taken to another location, police said in their report.
A two-year long investigation by Miami-Dade Police led to the arrests of one woman and six men who all face numerous counts of sex trafficking and deriving proceeds from prostitution.
The seven people arrested were: Daysi Jaques, 50; Kevin Lopez-Perez, 22; Braghian Navarrette, 28; Luis Paredes-Martinez, 34; Otoniel Zunun-Hernandez, 24; Fernando Lopez Santiz, 27.
A bond court judge set their bonds from $72,000 to $472,500.
Police suspect that some of the women who work the brothels may have been human trafficking victims who are exploited for prostitution.