Immigration officials are searching for a Mexican national they say forced young Mexican women—including a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old deaf woman—to work as prostitutes in Columbia, sometimes servicing up to 40 clients a day each.
Guadalupe Reyes-Rivera, an undocumented Mexican immigrant also known as “Mama Martina,” paid salaries to at least two other undocumented Mexicans to smuggle young girls into America and oversee their work as prostitutes, Craig Hannah, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified in federal court Tuesday.
Court officials said cases involving forced prostitution of undocumented aliens are unusual.
The young girls lived and worked in Richland County, most recently from a mobile home in Columbia about a mile north of I-20 off North Main Street, federal agents said. Officials have no evidence as to who the clients were, but law enforcement officials said their experience is that Hispanic prostitution rings mostly serve Hispanic men.
Reyes-Rivera is a fugitive, sought on suspicion of importing and harboring undocumented aliens.
Hannah identified the two men who oversaw the prostitution as Jesus Perez-Laguna, 36, of Charlotte, and his partner, Ciro Bustos-Rosales, whose age and address were unavailable. Both men were in federal court in Columbia on Tuesday.
It’s unlikely Bustos-Rosales will be released, since immigration officials have placed a detainer on him, court officials said.
So far, Perez-Laguna and Bustos-Rosales have been detained only on suspicion of importing and harboring an alien. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to say if more charges would be filed.