Five are indicted on sex charges

By MICHAEL HEWLETT | Winston-Salem Journal
Published: May 05, 2011

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Floyd France said he never saw anything overtly suspicious at the house across from him on Fitch Street in eastern Winston-Salem.

The man who lived there was quiet and didn't bother anyone, France said Wednesday.

But France said he did notice that men and women were coming in and out of the house at all hours of the night.

"It was an all-night thing," he said. "I thought they were selling crack at one point."

They weren't, according to federal prosecutors.

Mauro Aparicio-Hernandez, the man who lived in the house, and four other people were indicted on charges they forced a Guatemalan woman to work as a prostitute at that house at 1422 Fitch Street and another one on Southwin Drive in western Winston-Salem, as well as a house in Sanford, to pay off a $3,000 immigration bond.

No one was at the house on Fitch Street on Wednesday, and Raul Lio, the owner, said it has been rented to someone else. The one-story white house is just a few doors down from Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.

Aparicio-Hernandez, Agusto Valverde-Morales, Melvin Martinez-Alcantara, Ramon Luis Gandia and Amadelia Guardado were charged Friday with importation of an alien for immoral purposes.

Guardado pleaded guilty to the charge Monday as part of a plea agreement, the Fayetteville Observer reported. She is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 31 in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem.

Police Chief Scott Cunningham declined Wednesday to comment about the investigation, as did the U.S. attorney's office in Greensboro.

Winston-Salem police executed a search warrant at the house on Fitch Street on Dec. 2, 2010, according to court documents. A woman, identified as N.J.C., told investigators that she was forced to pay off a $3,000 immigration bond by working at two brothels in Winston-Salem and another in Sanford. According to court papers, she worked as a prostitute for Aparicio-Hernandez and Valverde-Morales.

Lio said he didn't find out about the police raid until a day or two later.

"He was very low-key," he said of Aparicio-Hernandez. "The neighbors said he was a nice guy."

Aparicio-Hernandez lived at the house for only about two months, Lio said.

N.J.C. told investigators that she was detained in Texas earlier in the year and that a woman named Kimberly arranged to help pay her $3,000 immigration bond in exchange for her working at a restaurant in North Carolina. Instead, she was taken to Winston-Salem and told she would have to work as a prostitute, court papers said.

At the house in Sanford, law-enforcement found evidence of prostitution, including lingerie, condoms and a ledger noting the days of the week with a tally by each day, court records say.

Standing outside his house on Fitch Street, France said he never thought a brothel was operating in his neighborhood.

"I thought they'd have more respect for the church," he said.


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