NEW YORK – Federal authorities on Wednesday busted a mob-sponsored sex trafficking operation that allegedly smuggled women from Russia and Eastern Europe to work at New York strip clubs.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the arrests of 20 people, including reputed Gambino crime family leader Alphonse Trucchio, on a host of charges that include visa fraud, marriage fraud and transporting illegal aliens.
All the defendants -- alleged members of both the Gambino and Bonanno crime families -- are expected to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein in Manhattan federal court Wednesday afternoon.
The ring would provide women to owners and operators of strip clubs in Queens and Long Island and would charge the clubs "protection" money, authorities said.
"The named defendants are charged with participating in a scheme that recruited Russian and other Eastern European women and assisted them in fraudulently obtaining summer work and travel visas," according to federal prosecutors.
"The defendants procured and sent these women false job offers for waitressing and other positions they would then include on their visa applications. However, once the women arrived in the U.S., they worked as exotic dancers at the strip clubs, in violation of visa rules prohibiting employment in the adult entertainment industry," prosecutors said.