Queens sex trafficking victim cries during trial recalling threats to her and her family

One of the victims of a Queens sex trafficking ring run by two brothers broke down in court Thursday recalling how she was threatened into prostituting herself.

The woman was trafficked from Mexico into the United States, where she was forced into prostitution by her boyfriend at the time, Jose Osvaldo Melendez-Rojas, according to federal prosecutors.

“He threatened me. He knew where my family lived. He could hurt me any way he wanted to," the woman testified in Brooklyn Federal Court. "Any way you look at it, I had to agree. I was afraid for myself. I was afraid for my family.”

She was smuggled into the United States in 2010 and was forced to work as a prostitute until 2012, according to prosecutors.

Jose Osvaldo Melendez-Rojas43, and his brother Rosalio Melendez-Rojas, 38, were arrested in Mexico in 2018 and charged with sex trafficking, alien smuggling and transportation of a minor for prostitution.

The brothers and three other co-defendants spent more than a decade, from 2006 to 2017, smuggling girls and women into the United States from Mexico. At least six victims trafficked by the brothers, prosecutors said.

Jose Osvaldo Melendez-Rojas told the victim who testified Thursday that he was taking her to America to work in a market where his brother was employed, she testified.

Instead, she was forced into long hours of sex work by the man she shared a bed with in a Queens apartment. She worked two shifts a day, one from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and another beginning at 7:00 p.m. and going until 3:00 a.m., she said.

When she was going to sleep, Melendez-Rojas would sometimes force her to have sex with him, she testified.

“We had sex. It wasn’t always when I wanted to,” she testified, adding that when Melendez-Rojas left the room at night, he would lock her in.

The brothers are on trial with three other men — Francisco Melendez-Perez, Abel Romero, and Fabian Reyes Rojas. All six defendants face sentences of life in prison if convicted on the sex trafficking charge.

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