SAVANNAH, Ga., Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Federal agents said 12 people have been indicted in an alleged sex trafficking scheme in which women were lured to Georgia from Latin America for prostitution.
The Jan. 11 indictment was made public Thursday, the Savannah Morning News reported.
The 12 suspects were arrested as part of a joint investigation called "Operation Dark Night" into sex trafficking in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas that began last spring.
Authorities said the suspects lured women from Mexico and other Central American countries to the United States and then threatened them with deportation unless they became prostitutes, The New York Times reported.
The investigation led to 13 criminal arrests and 44 administrative arrests tied to the investigation, as well as the rescue of as many as 11 victims, U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement said in a release.
"ICE investigates a wide array of crimes, but the trafficking of women and girls for prostitution is among the most sinister," said ICE Director John Morton. "Few crimes so damage their victims and undermine basic human decency. Our fight against this evil must be relentless, both here and abroad."