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Accused Jamaica sex trafficker caught in Virginia: Queens DA

A Jamaica man on the lam for allegedly enslaving a teen for prostitution was returned to Queens last week and charged with his crimes, the Queens district attorney said.

Anthony Vargas, 21, of Ruscoe Street, was arraigned Nov. 24 on 13 criminal counts, including kidnapping, sex trafficking and unlawful imprisonment, Queens DA Richard Brown said. Vargas, who was extradited from Virginia following a seven-month manhunt, allegedly locked a 13-year-old girl in his apartment and pimped her out for weeks, according to the DA.

“The defendant is accused of participating in a modern-day version of slavery by holding a teenage girl captive and prostituting her for his own financial gain. Few activities are as dehumanizing as prostitution,” he said in a statement.

Vargas, who has been remanded, befriended the runaway teen and brought her to his apartment, which had no running water, and had sexual relations with her between April 2 and April 12, Brown said. During the time, he allegedly took her to various places in Queens and had her work as a prostitute, according to the DA.

Whenever Vargas left the apartment, he would have the girl locked in a small room in the apartment, the DA said. Detectives from the NYPD’s missing person’s squad were able to find the girl April 12 and rescued her from the apartment, Brown said.

Vargas was arrested in Newport News, Va., two weeks ago and returned to New York last week to face his charges, according to the DA. If convicted of his charges, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison, the DA said.

Brown touted special legislation that enforces stricter penalties on suspects convicted of sex trafficking, including the sex trafficking state felony ´╗┐that was created in 2007. Among the new penalties is the suspect being forced to register as a sex offender.

He also said there are new government-run services that provide drug and alcohol treatment to victims as well as other services to help them get back on their feet.

“Fortunately, state lawmakers have given prosecutors a new tool to bring those who victimize and exploit such vulnerable individuals to justice and put them behind bars for a long time,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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