News Release
December 1, 2009
Erin Mulvey

Mexican Couple Arrested for Forcing a Young Mexican Woman into Prostitution in Brooklyn

DEC 01 -- Brooklyn – Domingo Salazar and his wife, Norma Mendez, were arrested on Wednesday, November 25, 2009 by members of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Strike Force which is comprised of agents and officers of the United States DEA, the New York Police Department, the United States Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York State Police, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Salazar and Mendez were charged with sex trafficking of a young woman from Mexico. The defendants appeared before United States District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack at the U.S. Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, New York, and were remanded to federal custody.

The case was announced by Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John Morton, Assistant Secretary, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, and John P. Gilbride, Special Agent-in- Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York.

As alleged in the complaint, between April 2007 and November 2009, the defendants, who are Mexican nationals, used physical violence and intimidation to force a young Mexican woman (the victim) to work as a prostitute. In approximately February 2007, Salazar began a romantic relationship with the victim. In April 2007, after the victim became pregnant with Salazar’s child, Salazar paid a smuggler to transport him and the victim across the U.S.- Mexico border. Salazar then arranged for them to travel to New York.

The complaint alleges that shortly after arriving in New York, Salazar and the victim began living with Mendez. However, Salazar told the victim that Mendez was his sister. In December 2007, about a month after the victim gave birth to her child, Salazar told the victim that she would have to work as a prostitute to earn money to support their child and to repay their smuggling debt. The victim was not permitted to leave the apartment except to work as a prostitute; she was transported to locations to work by a driver; and half the money she earned was taken by the driver and the other half by Salazar.

Beginning in late December 2007 and continuing until the defendants’ arrests, Salazar and Mendez allegedly abused the victim for failing to make more money, for not paying Mendez sufficient respect, and for having a baby. As detailed in the complaint, the abuse included cutting the victim with a knife, beating her with a brick and a board, punching her, and breaking her finger and nose. At the time of the defendants’ arrests, the victim still bore the marks of the abuse; her broken nose remained untreated and her eye was nearly swollen shut.

“This exemplifies DEA’s unique intelligence collection capabilities,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Gilbride. “Drug trafficking investigations encompass a multitude of sins, and in this instance, information provided by DEA led to the uncovering of a sex trafficking ring that resulted in the arrest of two individuals.”

“The trafficking of human beings and sex slavery are unconscionable in this day and age and will not be tolerated,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. Mr. Campbell extended his grateful appreciation to the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the New York City Police Department, and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in this investigation.

“Criminal organizations engaged in sex trafficking of women should know that ICE will work tirelessly with our partners to dismantle their ruthless operations,” said Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Morton. “As alleged in the complaint, these sex traffickers have shown their utter disregard for human life, and ICE is committed to identifying victims and arresting the sex traffickers who prey on them.”

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Warren and Pamela Chen.  

The Defendants:
Name: NORMA MENDEZ Age: 32