Suspected leader of international prostitution ring arrested, authorities say

A fugitive wanted for allegedly running an international human trafficking and prostitution ring who evaded capture for more than a year was arrested Tuesday at Newark Liberty International Airport, the county prosecutor said Wednesday. of Bergen, Mark Musella.

The woman, Burma Rincon, 62, formerly of Teaneck, has been identified as a suspect in an investigation, dubbed Operation Hope In Darkness, into an organization involved in human trafficking, prostitution and money laundering which had been operating throughout Bergen County, other parts of northern New Jersey and New York City since at least 2015, Musella said in a statement. Members of the organization trafficked women into Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, and Passaic counties, as well as Rockland and Queens counties, New York, for the purpose of prostitution, authorities said.

The criminal enterprise allegedly employed drivers to facilitate money laundering and prostitution crimes and others were identified as running and/or overseeing separate money laundering and prostitution organizations in northern New Jersey and New York, Musella said.

The investigation began in November 2020 and on February 3, 2021, more than 100 detectives from the Bergen County District Attorney’s Office executed 19 search warrants in Bergen and Hudson counties and arrested 21 people, according to a statement from the Bergen County District Attorney’s Office. However, Rincon was not among those arrested and was believed to be living abroad in Colombia.

On January 12 of this year, Rincon was indicted by a Bergen County grand jury and charged with racketeering, two counts of financially facilitating criminal activity, promoting organized street crime and promoting the prostitution, the office said.

On Tuesday, as Rincon attempted to enter the United States on a flight from Columbia, she was arrested at Newark airport by officers from the Bergen County District Attorney’s Office, United States Police Department. Port Authority and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorities said.

More than 50 women were identified as victims of human trafficking under Operation Hope in Darkness and the office, in conjunction with other agencies, was still trying to connect them with services for “the help achieve a life free from bondage and sexual abuse”. “Musella said.

He asked anyone who is a victim of human trafficking to contact the office’s hotline at 201-226-5532.

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Chris Sheldon can be reached at [email protected].

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