TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Officials say they have cracked an international ring operating in New Jersey that brought women from Mexico into the U.S. illegally to work as prostitutes.

Officials say the ring was part of a network of brothels in New York and surrounding states that paid people to smuggle the women, often under the guise that they would work as house cleaners or baby sitters.

State prosecutors say 38-year-old Jose Romero-Flores of Lakewood operated several brothels in the Ocean County town. Romero-Flores is charged with human trafficking.

His girlfriend is accused of assisting him in the operation of the brothels and four men are charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking.

Acting Attorney General John Hoffman says the arrests are the first under a new state law that carries tougher penalties.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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