Interactive: The supply chain

See how the Latino brothel system works

Video: Women lured to, then enslaved in America

  1. Closed captioning of: Women lured to, then enslaved in America

    >>> now to what investigators say is a growing problem in neighborhoods across america, women lured to the united states from latin america by the promise of jobs and a better life , only to be forced into sex work . you might be surprised to find something like that could happen where you live. nbc 's richard lui reports.

    >> reporter: from the outside, this house looks like any other in the neighborhood. but inside, prosecutors say that women and children were forced to have sex up to 40 times a day after being lure to the u.s. by am dore cortez meza, the convicted ringleader of one of the largest international sex trafficking cases ever prosecuted here. authorities say these victims were held as slaves in nearby houses. the windows boarded. there was no way out. the women we spoke with asked us not to use their real names or show their faces.

    >> translator: he beat me with a broomstick and with a closet bar. it's just not right what he did. he promised he would marry me.

    >> reporter: that's one way authorities say cortez mesa would trick his victims, at least ten in this case and there may be more. authorities don't know if they are connect bud nbc news has found reports of similar types of brothels in at least 25 states.

    >> hello, national human trafficking resource center.

    >> reporter: are anti-trafficking group polar ries calls this phenomenon latino residential brothels.

    >> the whole network spans all across the country really and it's snag i don't think many people realize.

    >> the johns are coming here. were in the cortez mesa case, authority says dozens of johns would arrive at the house every night. how much money are we talking about here?

    >> it would range between 25 and $35 per john.

    >> reporter: prosecutors say just one victim could earn the cortez mesa ring hundreds of thousands of dollars a year women wouldn't get a cent. even if you knew it was happening inside of here, you couldn't just show up. you needed a personal invitation to get through that door. you had to be latino or referred to get in. the invitation, phony business cards passed out at this shopping center . often these brothels are hard to find. even the neighbors didn't know what cortez mesa's group was doing. you any idea what was happening across the street?

    >> not a clue. not a clue.

    >> reporter: cortez mesa was recently sentenced in federal court , the charges included child sex trafficking and human smuggling .

    >> he is an animal. he is an animal that will now spend the next 40 years in jail for what he did to these women and others.

    >> reporter: women and children enslaved in america at a house next door or right down the street. richard lui , nbc news, cartersville, georgia.

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