NEW YORK — A group of Bronxites have been accused of running a mobile bordello in neighborhoods in Harlem and The Bronx where they sold sex with children as young as 13 years old, officials said.
Defendants Maria Soly Almonte, Dawitt "Daweezy" Dykes, Maria Magdalena Almonte, Darlene Deleon, Gabriely Jose and Vetthya Alcius were all charged with federal crimes related to the brothel, according to court documents.
“Human trafficking of minors can at times be overlooked by our society because some may believe the children involved have a choice," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. "But these children aren’t given a vote while the pimps peddle their bodies for money."
The brothel has existed since at least 2015 and operated throughout the city, officials said.
Soly Almonte was the proprietor; Alcius, Magdalena Almonte, Deleon and Jose were sex workers at the brothel; and Dykes provided security, court documents say.
The brothel used Backpage.com to advertise its services online, with ad titles including "Dominican bbw looking for fun," "Sexy kittens working all day call me now" and "Tia The brownskin hunnie is Available, come here Daddy," according to court documents.
The complaint against the six Bronxites refers to five underage victims involved with the brothel, all of whom worked as prostitutes at one or more of its locations, officials said.
All of the defendants have been arrested except Alcius, who is still at large, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
Alcius has been charged with sex trafficking and possession of child pornography, and he faces a possible life sentence for his crimes, officials said.
All other defendants could face a life sentence for sex trafficking as well except for Magdalena Almonte, who has not been charged with sex trafficking and faces up to a five-year sentence for using interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
“The defendants allegedly engaged in the sexual exploitation of minors as young as 13 years old," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "Protecting children from the predatory conduct of adults who would sexually exploit them for profit is a critically important law enforcement mission to which our office and our law enforcement partners at the FBI and NYPD are committed.”