Neighbors' action sparks rescue of women from suspected residential brothels in SJ

Amanda del Castillo Image
Friday, September 30, 2022
Women rescued from suspected residential brothels in SJ
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Four possible sex trafficking victims have been rescued in San Jose and two men suspected of running the brothels are in custody.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Four women, suspected of being victims of sex trafficking, have been rescued in San Jose. The development comes after residents alerted San Jose Police (SJPD) about suspicious activity. Calls led investigators to two alleged residential brothels, one at Bassett Street and another on Winterberry Way.

Those living along Bassett Street shared a recently found flier that was left outside of their San Jose homes. The notices included a plea to report suspected prostitution to police.

One neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said the alerts only highlighted months of suspicious activity.

"They had made changes to the entryway to make it easier to find," the residents said about the unit in question. "Had coming and going with cars just parked across the street. All men, all hours of the day and night."

On Thursday, SJPD confirmed the location on Bassett Street was one of two alleged residential brothels. The units were searched by the department's Human Trafficking Task Force on Tuesday.

"They had bullhorns, they had a SWAT team," the resident described. "There were armed police throughout the area. They were announcing for tenants and residents to stay in the building until they cleared it."

Police said between the Bassett Street location and the other on Winterberry Way, four women were rescued and were provided resources.

According to SJPD two men, suspected of running the brothels, were taken into custody. One was arrested for an unrelated, outstanding warrant for a commercial sex trafficking offense.

Officers took the time to commend residents for their role in keeping their communities safe.

"Folks from the neighborhood started calling in," SJPD officer Steven Aponte told reporters. "As detectives took note of the evidence that they were providing, they began setting up a case that led them to the two separate locations- which we believe are linked together."

At Winterberry Way, several residents spoke off-camera. They pointed to a unit located a few doors from the neighborhood park.

Residents described the area as otherwise safe and usually quiet.

On Thursday, SJPD warned, though they were able to shutdown these two suspected brothels, residents should still be vigilant about additional locations.

"It can happen at anytime and anywhere," Officer Aponte said. "And the fact of the matter is that folks are being trafficked for sex work. We need to know about that and offer them resources to escape that life."

An SJPD press release directed: Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Detective Badal #4437 at the San José Police Department Human Trafficking Task Force at 4437@sanjoseca.gov or (408) 537-1224.

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