Houston psychiatrist charged in human trafficking case
July 30, 2014
A Houston psychiatrist who also practices in Tyler has been indicted in federal court on charges of human trafficking.
Riyaz Mazcuri, 52, whose nick-name is "The Doctor," is one of four men who were arrested last week and charged with forced labor conspiracy and visa fraud conspiracy, court records state.
Mazcuri was arrested Thursday by the Gregg County Sheriff's Office on a federal warrant, according to law enforcement records and was released the next day on $300,000 bail.
A Sugar Land resident, Mehmood Hassanali Dhanani, also known as "Sam," has been indicted on the same charges. On Monday, he was at a private detention center in Conroe, said his lawyer, Feroz Merchant.
According to the indictment issued by a federal grand jury in New York, the men hired female dancers in India and brought them to the United States under the false pretense that they would perform Indian cultural programs.
Once the women arrived, they instead were forced to dance in night clubs for 12 to 14 hours per night, seven nights per week, and some were pressured into prostitution, the indictment states. One night club was in New York and one was in Houston, records state.
A woman who answered the phone Monday at Mazcuri's Houston office in the 6300 block of Hillcroft said she wasn't making any comment on the federal charges and declined to take a message.
According to the Texas Medical Board registry, Mazcuri graduated in 1978 from Dow Medical College at the University of Karachi in Karachi, Pakistan. His medical license is active and he has no license restrictions and no medical malpractice investigations on his record.
He lists hospital privileges with Bellaire Behavioral Hospital in Houston.
The other two men named in the alleged scheme were Sabja Khimani, of Queens, New York; and Rashmikant Patel, of Savannah, Georgia.
Mazcuri at one time co-owned a night club with Khimani and Dhanani, according to court records.
The defendants confiscated the women's passports and kept them confined in houses and hotel rooms when they weren't performing, court records state.
The alleged scheme, perpetrated through force and the threat of force, took place between 2008 and 2010, records state.
Mazcuri is scheduled to appear Aug. 1 at the U.S. District Courthouse in New York.
Houston and Texas are among the nation's busiest spots for trafficking, based upon the number of calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, officials said.
In October, federal agents arrested 13 suspects in connection with an alleged sex trafficking ring in Houston that prostituted underage, undocumented girls from Mexico for up to $500 an hour. Some suspects escaped capture during that incident.
Women who have suffered this type of ordeal are subject to the same range of emotions as rape survivors, said Leticia Manzano, manager of counseling and advocacy for the Houston Area Women's Center, who has counseled trafficking victims.
"They can have flashbacks, nightmares, intense fear, depression, shame - all the things associated with post-traumatic stress disorder," Manzano said.
"It's very important that when they're rescued, whether by law enforcement or otherwise, that they know there are free counseling services available to them," she said. The Houston Area Women's Center provides shelter and counseling for these survivors, Manzano said.
While many women are brought here from other countries, the majority of human trafficking in the United States involves children and teens who live here but are lured or kidnapped and end up in forced prostitution, Manzano said.
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