Three Nevada brothels owned by a candidate for the state legislature are being investigated for possible immigration violations and sex trafficking.
Nevada is the only state in the United States where sex work is legal, but it is restricted to brothels in eight counties.
Bunny Ranch, Kit Kat Ranch, and Love Ranch, all owned by Dennis Hof, have been the subject of a four-month investigation by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Hof recently won the Republican primary election for Nevada State Assembly District 36.
Thomson Reuters Foundation reports:
Hof, who appeared in the HBO reality TV show “Cathouse” about prostitutes at one of his brothels, won the Republican state primary in June for a seat in the Nevada assembly and is considered the favorite in the November general election.
Hof denied any immigration violations or trafficking at the brothel and said the sheriff’s department was responsible for screening prospective employees.
“It’s on the county, not us,” Hof told Reuters.
“The discovery of U.S. immigration law violations in our legal brothel system is extremely alarming,” McNeil said in a statement posted on Facebook on Thursday.
“The ability to coerce, exploit and traffic non-US citizens into Lyon County by foreign criminal enterprises is going to be difficult to detect and deter by our limited capabilities and resources of foreign born applicants, which has caused us to develop better working partnerships with federal agencies to combat human trafficking efforts,” he said.
McNeil added that this week officials from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Customs and Immigration inspected work cards required for sex workers at the brothels.
The probe has thus far found several violations tied to improper sex worker registration.
“Those practices include US immigration law violations, foreign country human trafficking indicators, fraudulent statements, issuance of work cards prior to completing criminal history background checks, and inability to validate out-of-state and US and other foreign national documents to determine identity,” read a statement from the sheriff’s office.