Three Hungarian nationals lured three young gay men to the United States only to work as “sex slaves” for up to 20 hours a day in New York City and Miami, prosecutors said Friday.
The suspected ringleaders — Gabor Acs, Viktor Berki and Andras Janos Vass — were charged in Miami-Dade state court with human trafficking and racketeering.
“This case serves as a reminder that sex trafficking is not limited to any particular race, gender, age or sexual orientation,” said Alysa Erichs, the federal special agent in charge of Miami’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Acs, Berki and Vass ran a company called Never Sleep Inc.
Never miss a local story.
According to authorities, the ringleaders met two victims in Hungary through a website called GayRomeo.com. Another victim was “living with gypsies” as a male prostitute when he met Acs through Facebook.
In 2012, the three victims — in their early 20s — were flown to New York City to work in what they believed was a legal business in the United States.
The victims “believed they would only be in New York for a few months to make tens of thousands of dollars before returning to their homeland and their families,” federal agent Melissa Pavlikowski wrote in an arrest warrant.
But in New York, the young men were forced to live in a cramped one-bedroom apartment while performing sex acts around the clock, sometimes with johns, other times on live web cameras, according to the arrest warrant.
Up to eight men lived and worked in the apartment.
The victims got little money, had their travel documents seized and were not allowed to leave the apartment. One man was terrified to leave after “Berki told him that he was a policeman in Hungary with a lot of contacts there which [the victim] understood to be a threat to him and his family,” the warrant said.
When another victim insisted he wanted to return to Hungary, Berki said he would be “able to make them all disappear as if they never existed.”
“These individuals may have come from a different country to exploit the vulnerable but they used the same basic trafficker tools of fear and intimidation to make their profits,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
In August 2012, the group moved to Miami, where the ringleaders insisted the men would no longer be prostituting. But the operation resumed in a home in the 13300 block of Northwest Eighth Lane.