Brothers Smuggled Prostitutes Into Indiana, Feds Say

Indianapolis Men Headed Racketeering Ring, Officials Claim

Three brothers smuggled prostitutes into the U.S. from Mexico and Central America in an Indianapolis-based operation that went on for several years, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana said Wednesday.

Federal investigators busted the ring at the La Joya Apartments on the city's west side, where they said a couple of tenants used the complex as a front for an illegal business, 6News' Rafael Sanchez reported.

Prosecutors said an apartment in the 4500 block of Candletree Circle was among one of the apartments used in the multi-state prostitution ring. Neighbors said they had no clue what was going on right outside their doors.

"I had no idea. It's just shocking (that it's) so close to home. I have a little girl," said neighbor Kelly Pease.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said 13 more people were involved as managers of prostitution houses in several states, including Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, shuffling the prostitutes between cities frequently.

Investigators said brothers Jose Louis Hernandez-Castilla, Norberto Hernandez-Castilla and Gregorio Hernandez-Castilla, ran the prostitution ring and stayed under the radar by advertising their services in Spanish on business cards.

"The organization operated primarily in the Hispanic community and advertised its services by distributing business cards bearing advertisements and telephone numbers for auto repair or western wear clothing," Hogsett said in a news release.

The federal government claims the business cards were well-known in the Hispanic community as being contact numbers for arranging appointments with prostitutes. Typically, the cost for services ranged from $40 to $50, Hogsett said.

The prostitution houses were managed by Hector Elizalde-Hernandez, Javier Aguilera-Sanchez, Fredy Arnulfo Valle-Soto, Jorge Armando Rodriguez-Sanchez, Jose Mejia, Santos Nunez, and Elvin Herrara, officials said.

Authorities said the suspects were charged with racketeering.

None of the women working in the ring were underage, but one of the women was 8 months pregnant, investigators said. Investigators are still trying to figure out if the women involved were being forced to pay off an immigration debt or if they worked willingly.

The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Indianapolis police, Marion County Sheriff's Department and other agencies were involved in the investigation.

Each suspect could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.