U.S. federal agents arrested on Thursday 20 members of a criminal gang that allegedly smuggled women from Russia and Eastern Europe to work at local strip clubs, the New York Post said, quoting prosecutors.
Charges brought against the suspected criminals include visa fraud, marriage fraud and conspiracy to transport illegal immigrants, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was quoted as saying.
The criminal gang is believed to have provided women to owners and operators of strip clubs in Queens and Long Island, and then charged the clubs “protection” money, the report said.
“The defendants procured and sent these women false job offers for waitressing and other positions they would then include on their visa applications,” federal prosecutors were quoted as saying in a statement. “However, once the women arrived in the U.S., they worked as exotic dancers at the strip clubs, in violation of visa rules prohibiting employment in the adult entertainment industry.”
The suspected criminals are expected to appear in court later in the day.