20 people were arrested in an early morning raid yesterday at strip clubs in NYC and Long Island, where women from Russia and Eastern Europe danced after being illegally smuggled into the country. All 20 face racketeering and extortion crimes related to their involvement in several strip clubs, which are allegedly controlled by the Gambino and Bonanno crime families. Authorities say the ring would lure women to the U.S. with promises of jobs as waitresses, but upon arrival they'd be enlisted to dance at clubs including Cheetah's in Manhattan; Gallagher’s 2000, Perfection and Rouge in Queens; and Scene in Commack, Long Island.

"The defendants themselves had one thing in common—the desire to turn the women they allegedly helped enter this country illegally, into their personal profit centers," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said yesterday. Several of the defendants also allegedly arranged for women to enter into sham marriages with U.S. citizens, most of whom lived upstate. "Some were recruited as waitresses, some were told straight up what the situation was," James Hayes of the Department of Homeland Security told reporters. "Some were recruited from overseas through advertisements in foreign language newspapers throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, some were recruited from Facebook in Russia."

But at least one of the women insists her marriage isn't a sham—just miserable. Zhanna Kuznetsova, 24, is accused of helping recruit the strippers, and she's also married to a man named to Joseph Striano, who was not indicted. She works as a secretary on Long Island, and last night she told the Post, "It’s a real marriage. It’s a cold relationship. We don’t talk a lot. Right now, things are not so good. I don’t have to be married to a person I love."

Some of the accused also allegedly extorted the dancers and other clubs for money. According to Hayes, "When the Russian organized crime members would say ‘hey, if we’re not paid a certain amount we are not going to supply you with dancers next week. There were threats of violence on the parts of the Italian organized crime families." The charges range from visa fraud conspiracy to extortion to marriage fraud, and some of the defendants face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.