NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A New Brunswick couple was arrested on September 18 for harboring undocumented immigrants and employing them in brothels located throughout New Jersey, according to the United States Attorney’s Office.
Juan Fredy Hernandez-Zozaya, 36, and his wife, Elizabeth Rojas Rojas, 33, are being charged with harboring aliens for the purpose of prostitution, and harboring aliens for the purpose of financial gain.
According to public information and published reports, two of the alleged brothels were in New Brunswick and were raided more than three years ago.
"On or about March 6, 2011, two state search warrants were executed on [Hernandez-Zozaya and Rojas'] brothels located in New Brunswick," reads the formal complaint filed by the US Attorney's Office.
In the immediate aftermath of the raids, local police confirmed to NJ.com's Tom Haydon that sixteen people were arrested after federal authorities raided alleged brothels at 298 Handy Street, 191 Comstock Street, and 301 Townsend Street.
But for years, other brothels allegedly run by Hernandez-Zozaya and Rojas continued operating including two in Trenton, two in Bridgeton, and additional brothels in Orange, Lakewood, and Asbury Park.
According to the complaint, state search warrants were executed in November 2013 and June 2014 at the Bridgeton brothels.
Two murders last month in that city have been connected to an investigation into human trafficking and brothels in New Jersey, according to NJ.com.
Jose Ortiz, 24, died on August 16 after being shot multiple times and pronounced dead on scene by emergency personal, and Eduardo Bernal, 32, was found dead on August 30, having suffered stab wounds. Authorities now believe that both killings were tied to the brothels.
The federal investigation revealed that the prostitutes were sometimes sent across state lines to work, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The husband and wife were allegedly the leaders of the prostitution ring. Hernandez-Zozaya did the hiring and firing as well as overseeing the individuals who managed the brothels, while Rojas directed, organized, and scheduled the prostitutes.
Both Hernandez-Zozaya and Roja face two counts of harboring aliens, which carry a maximum sentence of ten years each, as well as a count of conspiracy to commit those offenses, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.