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Attorney Brad Shepard said during a news conference. Shepard said he could not say which other countries the women came from.
At least one of the 19 was a prostitute herself and had been smuggled back into the U. The investigation began with a Crime Stoppers tip about suspected prostitution to Indianapolis police in December However, Shepard said investigators have not determined if any women were held against their will. The ring was headed by Jose Louis Hernandez-Castilla of Indianapolis, who smuggled the women into the country and arranged prostitjte transfers each week among the brothels, Langeman said.
Hernandez also provided prostitutes to brothels in Chicago, Louisville, Ky. Jose Louis Hernandez told the women they had to work as prostitutes to pay him back for the cost of smuggling them into the U.
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Federal, state and local authorities arrested the 19 people in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois on Tuesday on federal racketeering and conspiracy charges, Deputy U. Hogsett said the ring may have operated as long as 10 years.
Hernandez's brothers, Gregorio of Indianapolis and Norberto of Addison, also helped run the ring. A message seeking comment was left with a federal public defender.
Attorney Joe Hogsett said at the news conference. Investigators have found no evidence that any of the 19 were in the U. The brothers were known to have guns and use violence to intimidate or discipline other in the rung, Langeman said.
An informant told investigators that he was fearful of Jose Louis Hernandez, who was known "to have connections everywhere" and that he and his brothers are "capable of anything," numers affidavit said. The ring was known to have operated five brothels catering to Hispanic clients in apartments in Indianapolis and others in Cincinnati; Addison, Ill.
Authorities did not provide ages for any of those arrested. None were minors.
Gregorio Hernandez was brought back to Indianapolis from Grand Rapids because he caused too much trouble for his brother "due to his drug use and public displays of violence," Langeman said.