Five arrested, charged in human trafficking bust

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Providence Police have arrested and charged five people in connection to a human trafficking operation in Providence and New Bedford.

The five-month investigation uncovered Mairenya Valdez, 37, and Milton Estrada, 35, were spearheading a sex trafficking ring out of a Cumerford Avenue home. Valdez and Estrada, of Providence, were charged with human trafficking for sexual servitude, recruit and transport for the purpose of trafficking persons, transport and facilitate for the purpose of prostitution, and conspiracy.

Hector Montilla Segura, 36, of New Bedford, Carlos Lopez, 56, of Providence, and Rodolfo Galvez, 66, of Providence were charged with transport and facilitate females for the purposes of prostitution and conspiracy.

“They were trafficking women who would come from outside the country, and they would house them at different locations, Cumerford being one of them. From that location, it would become a house of prostitution,” said Providence Police Major David Lapatin.

Police found four women inside the Cumerford Avenue home. None of the women spoke English and were from the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

“They really had nowhere else to go. They slept there, they ate there, and they were like unconfined prisoners you would call them,” added Lapatin.

Police say they used tips and surveillance video to investigate, and made the arrests two days ago.

“Every week they’d switch the girls. They’d transport them from Providence to New Bedford, to maybe probably other states. They’d keep circling.”

He said more victims could be out there. Providence Police are working with the Attorney General’s Office to bring the case to trial.

“They had originally thought they were going there, some for massages, and just to work, and when they got to the location, they realized that they were gonna be asked to perform sexual acts,” said Providence Police Captain Kevin Lanni.

Police are actively helping the victims, Lapatin said, and family services was on scene the day of the bust. He wants people to know that there’s always a way out of a situation like this.

“You can always get out of it. Don’t think, you know, you’re not trapped anywhere. If it’s against your will, then we’ll get out of it or we’ll get you out of it.”

The suspects are out on bail and will be due back in court on January 28.

© WLNE-TV 2019