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Human Trafficking Ring Coerced Girl, 15, into Prostitution, Prosecutors Say

Some of the activities defendants are accused of occurred in Belleville, prosecutors say.

Victor Reyes (courtesy Essex County Prosecutor's Office)
Victor Reyes (courtesy Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

Four people have been charged in a 35-count indictment for being part of a human trafficking conspiracy involving a 15-year-old Essex County girl, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray said Tuesday.

Prosecutors said some of the activities the members of the ring are accused of occurred in Belleville, but could not provide specifics to protect the victim.

Charles P. Torres, 59, of North Bergen, Patricia Munoz, 23, of Jersey City, Victor Reyes, 38, of Union City, and Charles B. Torres, 26, of Ridgefield Park, have all been charged with a conspiracy that involved promoting prostitution, money laundering and other charges, the prosecutor's office said.

Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Sandler, who is handling the case, said in May of 2013 Munoz befriended a 15-year-old girl she met at a party and introduced her to Charles P. Torres. 

Through manipulation and coercion, the victim worked as a prostitute for Charles P. Torres from May 2013 to August 2013, prosecutors say. During that time, the child was taken from Belleville and North Bergen to various hotels and apartments where she was forced to have sex with adult men for money, the prosecutor's office said.

The victim gave money to Charles P. Torres, who advertised the victim with contacts he already had over the telephone, via text message and online where he posted advertisements with her photo to sell her body for sex, Assistant Prosecutor Sandler said.

Charles P. Torres also took photos of the victim in various states of undress and entirely naked, performing sexual acts and using sex toys, the prosecutor's office said. These photos were maintained on his cellular phone, camera and computer and were distributed via text and posted in online advertisements, Assistant Prosecutor Sandler explained.

Additionally, Charles P. Torres is charged with sexually assaulting the victim on at least two different occasions in his home in North Bergen.

“This is our first human trafficking indictment under the new comprehensive anti-trafficking law. It was brought in coordination with the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Task Force,’’ Acting Prosecutor Murray said. “We plan to aggressively go after those who would attempt to exploit children and others in this manner.”

The defendants will be ordered to appear in court for arraignment at a later date before Superior Court Judge Sherry Hutchins-Henderson.

“This is a heartbreaking case, which starkly illustrates the type of sexual abuse and exploitation of the very vulnerable that our new anti-trafficking law is meant to address,’’ Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said. “I commend all those who worked on this investigation. Their efforts will prevent these defendants from harming other young women.’’

Charles P. Torres was arrested on Aug. 7, 2013 and incarcerated at the Essex County Correctional Facility where his operation remained ongoing, the prosecutor's office said. He continued to collect money from men who previously had sex with the victim in this case and at least one other adult prostitute, the prosecutor's office said.

The collection of outstanding payments was facilitated through phone calls placed by the defendant from the jail to his son, Charles B. Torres, and Victor Reyes, the prosecutor's office said. Both Charles B. Torres and Reyes communicated with different individuals who owed money to Charles P. Torres for previous sexual encounters and they set up collections, the prosecutor's office said.

Reyes was photographed making at least two money pickups on behalf of Charles P. Torres, the prosecutor's office said. Those illegal proceeds were shared between Charles B. Torres and Reyes, the prosecutor's office said. These incidents occurred at least twice and maintained the prostitution business, the prosecutor's office said. This created an enterprise of racketeering in which Charles P. Torres, Reyes and Charles B. Torres all participated in varying degrees, the prosecutor's office said.

Charles P. Torres and Munoz both face 20 years to life in prison if convicted. Reyes and Charles B. Torres each face 10 to 20 years if convicted.

Charles P. Torres was indicted on four counts of first-degree racketeering, promoting prostitution, conspiracy to commit racketeering, sexual assault, promoting prostitution of a minor, production of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, endangering the welfare of a child, terroristic threats, money laundering and other conspiracy counts.

Patricia Munoz was indicted for human trafficking, promoting prostitution, conspiracy to commit human trafficking, conspiracy to promote prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child.

Victor Reyes was indicted on racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, promoting prostitution, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to promote prostitution.

Charles B. Torres, the son, was charged with racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to promote prostitution.

Acting Prosecutor Murray said the investigation and prosecution was a joint effort in coordination with the Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force. She lauded the FBI, the Belleville Police Department and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for their help in this case.

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