International Sex-Trafficking Ring Busted in NYC, Bergen, Hudson & Rockland Counties

photo credit: Bergen County Prosecutor

“OPERATION HOPE IN DARKNESS” UNCOVERS INTERNATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION RING OPERATING IN BERGEN COUNTY

Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced Thursday the charging of 22 individuals who orchestrated a Human Trafficking and Prostitution Organization in and around Bergen County. The arrests are the result of a four-month investigation conducted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Chief Robert Anzilotti.

The following individuals were arrested and charged with a number of crimes, which are enumerated below: BIRMANIA “NANCY” RINCON (DOB: 03/15/1959; single; unemployed) of 275 Farrant Terrace, Teaneck, NJ; LUZ “AMY” RINCON (DOB: 07/08/1961; single; unemployed) of 184 Munn Avenue, Teaneck, NJ; BERNARDINO HERNANDEZ-PALACIOS (DOB: 05/20/1981; married; unemployed) of 96 Garfield Avenue, Lodi, NJ; FERNANDO HERNANDEZ (DOB 06/27/1992; single; unemployed) of 96 Garfield Avenue, Lodi, NJ; LAURA GARCIA-MARAVILLA (DOB: 09/22/1986; married; unemployed) of 96 Garfield Ave, Lodi, NJ; CATHERINE ECHAVARRIA (DOB: 01/02/1993; single; unemployed) of 275 Farrant Terrace, Teaneck, NJ; DANIEL MORFFI (DOB: 01/16/1997; single; unemployed) of 25 Gardner Place, Parlin, NJ; DAVID AGUIRRE (DOB: 06/28/1995; single; unemployed) of 45 Bennett Road, Englewood, NJ; RODRIGO SANTANDER-QUITO (DOB: 06/18/1986; single; unemployed) of 6133 Jackson Street, Apartment 2, West New York, NJ; EDGAR VANEGAS (DOB: 05/07/1980; single; unemployed) of 280 East Clinton Avenue, Bergenfield, NJ; ANTHONY QUEZADA (DOB: 08/14/1988; single; unemployed) of 1107 27th Street, Apartment 1, North Bergen, NJ; EDWIN MERCADO (DOB: 03/08/2001; single; unemployed) of 315 7th Street, Union City, NJ; GERMAN CEBALLOS-OROZCO (DOB: 05/24/1988; single; unemployed) of 15 Hunt Walk, Apartment L, Bergenfield, NJ; GABRIEL TORRES (DOB: 06/20/1990; single; unemployed) of 302-304 North 3rd Street, Apt.15, East Newark, NJ; MONSERRAT GOMEZ-SANCHEZ (DOB: 09/09/1985; single; unemployed) of 39 Kipp Avenue, Apartment 2, Elmwood Park, NJ; OSCAR RINCON (DOB: 02/17/1979; single; unemployed) of 39 Kipp Avenue, Apartment 2, Elmwood Park, NJ; JORGE RINCON (DOB: 10/09/1954; single; unemployed) of 275 Farrant Terrace, Teaneck, NJ; JOAN RINCON (DOB: 6/24/80; married; unemployed) of 75 Dell Glen Avenue, Lodi, NJ; ROBERTO MOLINA (DOB: 09/02/1974; single; unemployed) of 428 Thompson Street, 2nd Floor, Hackensack, NJ; GIOVANNI MORALES-DEGALES (DOB: 10/15/1988; single; unemployed) of 43-15 108th Street, Corona, NY; and ARMANDO GARCIA-OSORIO (DOB: 08/23/1982; single; unemployed) of 3212 100th Street, East Elmhurst, NY, and BRYAN JIMENEZ-RINCON (DOB: 11/08/1988; single; unemployed) of 96 Garfield Avenue, Lodi, NJ.

In November 2020, members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Squad initiated an investigation, dubbed “Operation Hope in Darkness,” into a human trafficking, prostitution, and money laundering organization operating throughout Bergen County, in northern New Jersey, and in New York. The investigation revealed that the arrested individuals were trafficking women throughout Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, and Passaic Counties, and in Rockland County and Queens County, New York for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts.

As a result of the investigation, BIRMANIA RINCON, LUZ RINCON, BERNARODI, DINO HERNANDEZ, and FERNANDO HERNANDEZ were identified as the primary leaders of a criminal enterprise engaged in money laundering and prostitution offenses since at least 2015. This criminal enterprise employed drivers to facilitate the money laundering and prostitution offenses. The drivers were identified as DANIEL MORFFI, DAVID AGUIRRE, RODRIGO SANTANDER-QUITO, EDGAR VANEGAS, ANTHONY QUEZADA, EDWIN MERCADO, GERMAN CEBALLOS-OROZCO, and GABRIEL TORRES. Additional individuals were also identified as managing and/or supervising separate money laundering and prostitution organizations throughout northern New Jersey and in New York. Those individuals are ROBERTO MOLINA, MONSERRAT GOMEZ-SANCHEZ, GIOVANNI MORALES-DEGALES and ARMANDO GARCIA-OSORIO.

The identified leaders of this criminal enterprise secured multiple female victims to work for them each day. They would field calls for up to 12 or more hours a day from men soliciting women for sex acts. Multiple drivers were employed by the organization to transport the female victims to various locations throughout the day for the purpose of having the women engage in commercial sex acts. Each victim would be forced to work for 12 or more hours per day, meeting with 20 to 40 men during their shift. On average, the members of this organization charged $35 to $40 per 10 to 15 minute session for commercial sex acts, which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in illicit proceeds each month. This money was collected by various members of the organization, including LUZ RINCON, CATHERINE ECHAVARRIA, FERNANDO HERNANDEZ AND BERNARDINO HERNANDEZ-PALACIOS. The money was then broken down and deposited into bank accounts in an attempt to avoid currency transaction reporting requirements. Once deposited, the illicit proceeds paid mortgages and other property maintenance expenses on multiple properties owned by BIRMANIA and LUZ RINCON in both New Jersey and Florida. The organization kept 50% of the daily proceeds, while the victims were given the other 50%. Their money, however, was often used to satisfy a trafficking debt and/or wired to sex traffickers in the Puebla and Tenancingo regions of Mexico.

During the early morning hours of Wednesday, February 3, 2021, over 100 detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office executed 19 search warrants in Bergen and Hudson Counties, and arrested 21 individuals. One individual, BIRMANIA RINCON, is currently a fugitive from justice and is believed to be in Colombia, South America. The BCPO is working with federal counterparts to locate and extradite her to the United States.

More than 50 women have been identified as being victims of human trafficking during the course of the investigation. In partnership with the United States Department of Homeland Security Victim Assistance Specialists and Covenant House, the BCPO is undertaking efforts to connect these victims with all available services to help them obtain a life free from sexual servitude and abuse.

Anyone who has been the victim of human trafficking is encouraged to call the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Tipline at 201-226-5532. Services and assistance are available, and we will ensure that victims are connected to resources.

Prosecutor Musella states that the charges are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He would like to thank the following agencies and offices for their assistance in this investigation: Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Office of Homeland Security Investigations – New Jersey Division, Englewood Police Department, Paramus Police Department, Port Authority Police Department, Fairview Police Department, Hackensack Police Department, Hillsdale Police Department, Tenafly Police Department, Saddle River Police Department, Woodcliff Lake Police Department, the New Jersey State Police and the Office of the Bergen County Clerk.

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Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

Racketeering / Human Trafficking Charges

BIRMANIA RINCON:

1. 2/03/21: Racketeering, Bergen County

2C:41-2(c ) / 2C:41-2(d) (1st Degree); Racketeering

2. 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (1st Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Vicarious Liability

3. 2/03/21: Human Trafficking

2C:13-9 / 2C:2-6 (2nd Degree); Human Trafficking / Vicarious Liability

4. 2/03/21: Promotion of Organized Street Crime

2C:33-30 (2nd Degree); Promotion of Organized Street Crime

5. 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

LUZ RINCON:

1. 2/03/21: Racketeering, Bergen County

2C:41-2(c ) / 2C:41-2(d) (1st Degree); Racketeering

2. 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (1st Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Vicarious Liability

3. 2/03/21: Human Trafficking

2C:13-9 / 2C:2-6 (2nd Degree); Human Trafficking / Vicarious Liability

4. 2/03/21: Promotion of Organized Street Crime

2C:33-30 (2nd Degree); Promotion of Organized Street Crime

5. 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

BERNARDINO HERNANDEZ-PALACIOS:

1. 2/03/21: Racketeering, Bergen County

2C:41-2(c ) / 2C:41-2(d) (1st Degree); Racketeering

2. 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (1st Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Vicarious Liability

3. 2/03/21: Human Trafficking

2C:13-9 / 2C:2-6 (2nd Degree); Human Trafficking / Vicarious Liability

4. 2/03/21: Promotion of Organized Street Crime

2C:33-30 (2nd Degree); Promotion of Organized Street Crime

5. 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

FERNANDO HERNANDEZ:

1. 2/03/21: Racketeering, Bergen County

2C:41-2(c ) / 2C:41-2(d) (1st Degree); Racketeering

2. 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (1st Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Vicarious Liability

3. 2/03/21: Human Trafficking

2C:13-9 / 2C:2-6 (2nd Degree); Human Trafficking / Vicarious Liability

4. 2/03/21: Promotion of Organized Street Crime

2C:33-30 (2nd Degree); Promotion of Organized Street Crime

5. 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

CATHERINE ECHAVARRIA:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

DANIEL MORFFI:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

DAVID AGUIRRE:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

RODRIGO SANTANDER-QUITO:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

EDGAR VANEGAS:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Anthony Quezada:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Edwin Mercado:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

German Ceballos-Orozco:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Gabriel Torres:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Monserrat Gomez-Sanchez:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity, Bergen County

2C:21-25(a),(b)(1) and (c) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity / Accomplice Liability

2. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

LAURA GARCIA-MARAVILLA:

11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Oscar Rincon:

11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Jorge Rincon:

1. 11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Roberto Molina:

11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Elizabeth Ortega Galindo:

11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Armando Garcia Osorio:

11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

a. 2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Giovanni Morales-Degalas:

11/01/20- 2/03/21: Promoting Prostitution, Bergen County

2C:34-1(b)(2) / 2C:2-6 (3rd Degree); Promoting Prostitution / Vicarious Liability

Bryan Jimenez-Rincon:

2/03/21: Possession of CDS (Marijuana) with the Intent to Distribute

2C:35-5 (2nd Degree

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