A 14-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Luz Elvira Cardona, Roberto Cesar Cid Dominguez, Cristian Noe Godinez, Blanca Hernandez Morales, Jose Facundo Zarate Morales and Wayne Peiffer, a Village of Brewster police officer, with conspiracy to transport minors and the transportation of minors, sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion, promotion of prostitution, use of interstate facilities to commit bribery and related conspiracy counts.
Cardona, Cid Dominguez, Hernandez Morales and Zarate Morales were arrested earlier today in Queens, New York. Peiffer was arrested earlier today in Highland, New York. Godinez is currently a fugitive. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James R. Cho.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ricky J. Patel, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrests and charges.
“As alleged, the defendants conspired to lure young women and minor girls to travel to the United States based on false promises of a better life and forced them into prostitution once they arrived. The defendants allegedly received assistance in carrying out this conspiracy from a corrupt police officer who traded the honor of his badge and sworn oath for free sexual services,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office is committed to bringing sex traffickers to justice and dismantling organizations that victimize women.” Mr. Peace thanked the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, Putnam County District Attorney’s Office and Westchester Putnam County Real Time Crime Center for their invaluable assistance with the case.
“As alleged, the individuals named in the indictment were part of an elaborate network of conspirators that used deception and coercion to sell dreams of a better life in the United States to young and impressionable women, who arrived only to be forced into a miserable life of torment, sexual abuse and prostitution at the hands of their captors,” stated HSI Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Patel. “The criminal organization also allegedly retained the services of a corrupt cop, who betrayed the badge and the people that he swore to protect by being complicit in these deplorable acts and accepting payments in sexual favors. This case involved true collaboration between federal, state and local law enforcement partners to bring the hierarchy of this trafficking organization to justice.”
“Our arrest of a police officer isn't the most egregious facet of this investigation. We allege Mr. Peiffer had sex with the girls being trafficked as payment for his protection of the traffickers. The oath law enforcement officers take affirms they will serve and protect law abiding citizens and vulnerable members of the community, not aid and abet criminals who are abusing young girls and forcing them to have sex against their will. The FBI New York Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force and our law enforcement partners have done outstanding work searching out the leaders of these criminal organizations and holding them accountable. However, that's only half of the story of their incredible work. Now they're helping the victims through the trauma they experienced, and getting them the help they need to heal,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll.
“The allegations in today’s indictment – that these two illicit organizations were aided for years by a sworn officer who betrayed his solemn oath to protect the public – represent among the most heinous crimes we confront. The NYPD and our law enforcement partners share an unwavering commitment to protect survivors of human trafficking and to ensure that anyone seeking to profit through the abuse and exploitation of others is brought to justice. I commend our NYPD officers, government partners, and the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York for their tireless work in dismantling these entities and for successfully pursuing this important case,” stated NYPD Commissioner Shea.
As set forth in court filings, the charges relate to the operation of two sex trafficking and prostitution organizations – the Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization and the Godinez Prostitution Business – and the years-long bribery of Peiffer, who allegedly accepted free sexual services by the two organizations in exchange for protecting the organizations from law enforcement detection and arrest.
Since approximately May 2002, members of the Queens-based Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization allegedly engaged in the sex trafficking of young women and minor girls and the promotion of prostitution. Cardona, Cid Dominguez, Hernandez Morales and Zarate Morales used force, threats of force, fraud and coercion to cause young women and minor girls from Mexico to engage in prostitution in the United States. Members of the organization pressured the victims to travel to the United States with false promises of employment and a better life. Once smuggled into the United States, the victims were forced to engage in prostitution. The young women and minor girls were transported to prostitution clients throughout the State of New York.
The Godinez Prostitution Business also regularly caused women to be transported from a location in Queens to various locations, including Brewster, New York, for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. Noe Godinez worked as a driver for the Godinez Prostitution Business and transported women along preassigned routes to prostitution clients.
Both the Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization and the Godinez Prostitution Business operated in Brewster, where they received protection from Peiffer. Since at least 2006, Peiffer has been a police officer with the Village of Brewster Police Department (“BPD”). For more than eight years, Peiffer allegedly directed members of the Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization and the Godinez Prostitution Business to deliver women to him, including at the BPD police station, so that he could engage in sexual activity with the women at no cost to Peiffer. In exchange, Peiffer provided the Cid-Hernandez Sex Trafficking Organization and the Godinez Prostitution Business protection from arrest, including by advanced warning of law enforcement operations and intervening to prevent arrest.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government’s case is being handled by the office’s Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Margaret Lee, Nicholas Moscow and Rachel Shanies are in charge of the prosecution.
LUZ ELVIRA CARDONA
Queens, New York
ROBERTO CESAR CID DOMINGUEZ
Queens, New York
CRISTIAN NOE GODINEZ
Queens, New York
BLANCA HERNANDEZ MORALES
Queens, New York
JOSE FACUNDO ZARATE MORALS
Queens, New York
Highland, New York