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Friday, March 5, 2010

Cops OK with Local Prostitution

South Ward pols: Prostitution at Trenton bars ignored by Latino cops
The Trentonian by L.A. Parker - March 4, 2010

TRENTON, NJ — Some of Trenton’s Latino policemen are looking the other way at the prostitution in South Ward bars that cater to illegal immigrants willing to pay $12 for a beer — and a side of sex. Veteran neighborhood civic activist Juan Martinez, a City Council candidate, made the bombshell allegation yesterday, saying many “people in the Trenton police department are aware of this.” South Ward Councilman George Muschal said prostitution is rampant at many bars in his section, but the retired cop said he wouldn’t criticize fellow law officers until he sees more proof of police corruption. Martinez and Muschal said the prostitution has become so widespread the operators of the illegal business are selling colored chips for lap dances and more advanced sexual favors. The “chip game” is played all over the ward, said Muschal, who is seeking re-election in May. “You may pay $12 for a beer and receive a chip, which entitles you to a dancer, who receives a portion of the money you paid for the drink. She may dance just for you, give you a lap dance — but other arrangements can be made,” Martinez said. “Pay enough money and you may end up at some house getting what you paid for. They switch the spots and change the locations. It’s hard to keep up with if you are not paying attention.” Martinez and Muschal said the sex trade targets primarily illegal immigrants and reported that women are bussed from New York City to work neighborhood bars on weekends because most of the men get paid on Friday. “A guy goes into a bar and buys a chip for (oral sex), intercourse, whatever, and then he leaves the bar and is taken to a residence where everything goes down,” Muschal said. He called it a “shell game” that makes detection by police difficult. Community activist Evelyn DeLeon said she has first-hand knowledge of sexual setups. “These guys usually are picked up in a van, sometimes at 2 or 3 a.m. They are taken to a strange house but these guys must be out of their minds to get hauled somewhere,” DeLeon said. Martinez said “risky business” sex games require “clients” to climb into a car and head to an unknown destination. “You may be here illegally and alone with some money in your pocket. The women could decide to set you up and have people jump you. What can you do in that situation? Tell a police officer that you had hired a prostitute? Tell a police officer that you’re here illegally?” Martinez said. Martinez also alleged that Latino police officers know more than they admit about prostitution and the South Ward sex trade. “Listen, a lot of people in the Latino community know about this. A lot of people in the Trenton police department are aware of this. We have the best intelligence about the prostitution and bars that stay open way past the required 2 a.m. closing time. Everything is so hushed right now. Nothing gets done,” Martinez said. “Latino officers know what’s going on, but I and other people who are fighting this destruction of our neighborhoods get more support from other officers or people like George Muschal.” Martinez alleged that bar owners and prostitution warlords seem to have some political influence in Trenton, but wouldn’t comment further when asked for names. Trenton police spokesperson Pedro Medina said his office would not get involved in political antics. “The comments made by Juan Martinez truly deserve no response. We have made multiple prostitution arrests in the South Ward and will continue to do so,” Medina said. Martinez said time will prove his allegations. “Just wait. Just watch and see,” he said. “The roof is going to blow off of what’s going on in the South Ward,” he predicted. Muschal promised tougher enforcement, and Martinez called for city and state liquor regulators to close bars caught running hookers and in violation of other rules. “Prostitution is hurting businesses in the South Ward, and we’re starting to hear some complaints from Chambersburg,” Martinez said. “This is starting to get out of hand. If we don’t stop it now, then prostitution and all of the negative things that comes with it, is going to mushroom in Trenton.”

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