A Manhattan grand jury indicted a Queens man on sex trafficking charges for luring and then pimping out a 17-year-old girl as part of a prostitution ring operating out of New York and Miami, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Curtis Hamlet, 33, is accused of forcing the girl into selling her body for his clients between January and March of this year, taking brutal measures to assert control over her. The indictment alleges that Hamlet, in a March incident, used a hot butter knife to carve his last name into her leg.
The girl reported the incident to the 23rd Precinct in East Harlem, which led to a two-state investigation that unraveled the sex sale ring, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. Hamlet and an alleged colleague — Natasha Cruz, 20, of Manhattan — were named in the indictment announced on Sept. 17.
“This investigation into the alleged recruitment and forced prostitution of a 17-year-old girl demonstrates our office’s unwavering commitment to combatting sex trafficking, even during a public health emergency,” said Vance. “I thank my office’s Human Trafficking Response Unit and our partners in law enforcement, both in New York and Miami, for putting an end to this horrific multi-city operation and securing an indictment on behalf of this young survivor.”
Prosecutors said that Cruz allegedly first made contact with the 17-year-old female victim in January 2020 and recruited her into the sex trafficking business that Hamlet oversaw. Over the next three months, Hamlet housed the victim in Manhattan and forced her to perform sex acts on a regular basis with clients.
Soon after the carving assault was reported to the 23rd Precinct, the NYPD Human Trafficking Team and the Manhattan DA’s Human Trafficking Response Unit sprung into action, opening an investigation that utilized court-authorized wiretaps of Hamlet’s phone to help gather evidence.
The investigation found that Hamlet’s alleged sex trafficking ring operated in New York and Miami, and that he had pimped out four young women — including two girls under 18 — so far this year. Vance said that his office intends to file additional charges against Hamlet in the weeks to come.
For now, Hamlet faces counts of sex trafficking of a child, sex trafficking and second-degree promoting prostitution. Cruz was indicted for second-degree promoting prostitution. Sex trafficking charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 25 years behind bars.
Vance said that the investigation is ongoing. Anyone who is a victim of trafficking, or knows someone who is, can call the Manhattan DA’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 212-335-3400.
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