The New Jersey State Police arrested eight suspects for allegedly operating a human trafficking network in Central New Jersey.
During a four-month investigation, detectives discovered that the suspects smuggled female victims into the country and forced them into prostitution.
On Friday, January 21, detectives from the State Police Missing Persons & Human Trafficking Unit obtained information that a juvenile was being trafficked out of a residence on Hudson Street, in Trenton, Mercer County.
Later in the day, detectives along with members of the State Police T.E.A.M.S. Unit, K-9 Unit, Crime Suppression Central Unit, Trenton Police Department, and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) executed a search warrant at the residence.
As a result, detectives located two female victims inside the residence and arrested Daniel Camara Bonito, 55, of Trenton and Edy Villeda Estrada, 39, of Trenton.
The alleged ringleader of the operation Paulino Macolas-Aguirre, 43, who operated the ring out of multiple Trenton residences.
Macolas-Aguirre faces human trafficking, prostitution and sexual assault charges, in addition to other crimes.
Other suspects arrested for their suspected involvement in the ring were: Efran Melocastillo, 30; Jose Gabriel Camara Perico, 30; and Laura Macolas Aguirre, 44.
Two other suspects — 31-year-old Daniel Handerson Camara Perico and 28-year-old Daniela Penco-Camara — are still at large, according to police.
During the investigation, detectives discovered that one of the female victims was smuggled from Mexico to Texas under the belief that she would be working in a restaurant. However, she was involuntarily forced into a human sex trafficking operation.
The juvenile victim was then trafficked into New Jersey where she continued to be forced into prostitution in Asbury Park before being moved to Trenton.
Through various investigative means, detectives identified Paulino Macolas-Aguirre, 43, of Trenton, N.J. as the ringleader of the human trafficking operation and determined that he was operating out of multiple residences in Trenton.
On Wednesday, May 11, 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 New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice executed search warrants at various residences in Trenton.
As a result, nine additional female victims were located.
Detectives also obtained evidence that they were smuggled into the United States under the pretense they would be provided legitimate employment.
“The trafficking of human beings is horrific, particularly when it involves the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and girls lured to this country under the promise of a better life,” said Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin. “We are committed to working with the State Police and our law enforcement partners to arrest human traffickers and rescue their victims from the shadows, where these crimes occur.”
“Human trafficking victims are subjected to irreprehensible physical and emotional abuse because of the manipulation and fear-based tactics used by their perpetrators,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This investigation shows our dedication to use 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.”
Daniel Handerson Camara Perico and Daniela Penco-Camara remain at large. All other suspects were lodged in Mercer County Jail pending detention hearings.