- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A New Brunswick couple was charged by federal prosecutors Thursday with running a prostitution ring involving at least eight brothels across New Jersey with women in the country illegally.

Federal prosecutors said Juan Fredy Hernandez-Zozaya, 36, and his wife, Elizabeth Rojas Rojas, 33, managed the brothels in private houses and employed women in the country illegally as prostitutes.

The couple made their first court appearance Thursday and were held without bail. Rojas’ attorney, Henry E. Klingeman, said she planned to plead not guilty. Hernandez-Zozaya’s attorney declined to comment.

Prosecutors say the two have been under investigation since 2012. They say the brothels operated in New Brunswick, Trenton, Orange, Lakewood, Asbury Park, and Bridgeton.

Police in Bridgeton said two August slayings are tied to brothels operating there. Jose Ortiz, 24, was shot to death Aug. 16 and Eduardo Bernal, 32, was stabbed to death Aug. 30.

Capt. Michael Gaimari said police have been working with the Department of Homeland Security since an Aug. 16 killing. Gaimari did not release any other details on how the cases might be connected.

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