Houston doctor accused of luring Indian dancers to US in sex trafficking scheme

By Nakia Cooper - Senior Web Editor

HOUSTON - A Houston doctor and three men in New York are accused of luring dancers from India with the promise of legal jobs, then forcing them into the sex trade once they arrived.

The doctor, 62-year-old Riyaz Mazcuri, Rashmikant "Sam" Patel, Sabja Khimani and Mehmood Hassanali Dhanani were charged with forfeiture (forced labor conspiracy), visa fraud conspiracy and fraud in procuring foreign labor.

According to the US Marshal's Office, the men hired female dancers in India under the false pretense that they would perform Indian cultural programs in the United States and then, once they were here, forced them to dance in nightclubs in front of crowds of men for 12 to 14 hours per night, seven nights per week, and made them engage in prostitution.

The men allegedly confiscated the dancers' passports and, when they were not performing, confined them to houses and hotel rooms against their will. The group further made false statements in visa applications to obtain permission for the performers to enter the country, documents state.

The women were in fear for their lives. They believed if they did not perform such labor and services, they would suffer serious harm and physical restraint.

The accused were booked into the Gregg County Jail on Thursday, and released to federal authorities a day later.

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