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El Salvador National Pleads Guilty to Recruiting Teens for Sex Trafficking Ring

An illegal alien from El Salvador pleaded guilty Wednesday February 13, 2013, to recruiting a 15-year-old runaway to engage in commercial sex for a prostitution ring.

Formerly from Adelphi, Md., Yanira del Carmen Guerrero Andrade, aka Yadira or Litsy, 28, was apprehended following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. field office with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.

Guerrero Andrade pled guilty to child sex trafficking, which carries a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for May 10, 2013.

“HSI will continue to thwart those who prey on teenage victims for their own greed,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres. “We cannot allow anyone to traffic vulnerable victims and think they can get away with this. We will continue to diligently work with our law enforcement partners to combat sex trafficking in our community.”

“Ms. Guerrero Andrade’s actions show just how vile the world of human trafficking is – right here in our community,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “She lured a 15-year-old girl into her boyfriend’s commercial sex trade business so she could sell her off time and time again for profit. Many people think human trafficking is a man’s business – but the recruiters are often women, and we hold them accountable.”

According a statement of facts filed with her plea agreement, Guerrero Andrade admitted that she met a 15-year-old runaway in January 2009 and encouraged her to work as a prostitute for an organization run by Julio Cesar Revolorio Ramos, whom Guerrero Andrade was dating. After the victim spoke to Revolorio Ramos by phone, Guerrero Andrade introduced the victim to him and the two of them transported the victim from Maryland into Virginia to work as a prostitute, even though they knew the victim was under 18 years of age.

On the first day the victim was trafficked, she had sexual relations with approximately 17 customers, and on the third day she had sexual relations with 25 customers. In June 2010, Guerrero Andrade invited the victim to live in the basement of the home she shared with Revolorio Ramos. One week after moving in to the home, Revolorio Ramos again prostituted the victim, and the victim paid rent with the money she received from prostitution.

Guerrero Andrade also admitted that in 2010, she provided the victim with contact information for other prostitution organizations so the victim could work for those organizations during the weeks she was not being prostituted by Revolorio Ramos.

On Feb. 8, 2013, Revolorio Ramos was sentenced to 188 months in prison for his role in sex trafficking a child.

Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes.

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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Illegal Mexican National Sentenced for Sex Trafficking

An illegal alien from Mexico who lived in Riverdale, Md., was sentenced Friday, January 4, 2013, to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for transporting more than 100 women from other states to engage in commercial sex in Virginia.

Marcos Sanchez Hernandez, also known as “Marquito,” 37, pleaded guilty Oct. 15, 2012, to conspiracy to transport women to engage in prostitution.

“For years, Sanchez Hernandez ran a sex trafficking ring that reached into our communities here in Virginia and out to our neighboring states,” said Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Today, he learned what we hope other sex traffickers are rapidly discovering – sex trafficking is not a viable business enterprise in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and those who engage in it will face lengthy prison time when caught.”

“Sanchez Hernandez profited for years from his multi-state sex trafficking ring,” said John P. Torres, special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. “HSI DC does not tolerate the exploitation of others and is committed to bringing to justice those who are involved in the sex trafficking industry.”

According to court records, from 2005 through July 2012 Sanchez Hernandez was part of a network that transported women to engage in commercial sex acts in Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and various locations in Virginia, including Fairfax County, Prince William County, Alexandria, Arlington, Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He admitted to transporting more than 100 women and selling their bodies in 10 to 15-minute increments for $30.

In 2010, Sanchez Hernandez took over leadership of the enterprise and trained an employee on where to drive the prostitutes, how to collect proceeds, and how to avoid law enforcement. He advertised the prostitution business by handing out business cards at Spanish restaurants, check cashing stores, construction sites and day laborer sites. Eventually, the proceeds of the operation were sent to the enterprise’s former leader in Mexico.

This case was investigated by the HSI Transnational Gang Unit, which participates in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Virginia Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc J. Birnbaum, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Frank are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies – along with nongovernmental organizations – dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes. From FY2011 to the present, 46 defendants have been prosecuted in 27 cases in the Eastern District of Virginia for human trafficking and trafficking-related conduct involving at least 32 victims.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Mexican National Sentenced for Sex Trafficking

An illegal alien from Mexico pleaded guilty Tuesday, December 18, 2012, to conspiring to engage in the sex trafficking of two minors. The guilty pleas resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Kentucky State Police.

Adulfo De Aquino-Cancino, age 28, a resident of Taylor County, Ky., pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to conspiring to benefit financially from a prostitution venture that recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided and obtained by any means two minors. De Aquino-Cancino pleaded guilty and will serve 84 months in prison and up to a lifetime of supervised release. As part of the plea agreement, the United States agreed to dismiss counts 2, 3 and 4 of the grand jury indictment.

According to the plea agreement, between August 2011 and January 2012, De Aquino-Cancino engaged in a conspiracy where he knowingly benefitted from participating in a venture that recruited minors to engage in commercial sex acts. The conduct of the venture constituted interstate commerce because De Aquino-Cancino communicated with the minors via cellular telephone and text messages. De Aquino-Cancino was indicted by a grand jury meeting in Bowling Green, Ky., May 16.

According to an affidavit filed by HSI in support of a criminal complaint, between August 2011, and January 2012, De Aquino-Cancino recruited females, arranged for commercial sexual encounters, transported and benefited financially from commercial sex transactions involving two minors and several adults in Green, Taylor, Adair and Barren counties in the Western District of Kentucky.

On January 19, De Aquino-Cancino was interviewed by a Kentucky State Police detective. He stated that he knew several girls in the Campbellsville, Ky., area who were prostitutes. He further states that he would go to Campbellsville to pick the prostitutes up and take them to different locations where they performed commercial sex acts with the defendant’s friends. The prostitutes would in turn pay De Aquino-Cancino for driving them to the locations. De Aquino-Cancino identified the two juveniles and affirmed that he knew that what he was doing was illegal.

Following this interview, De Aquino-Cancino was arrested by the Kentucky State Police.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua D. Judd, Western District of Kentucky, is prosecuting the case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678).

HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Mexican Sex Trafficking Ring Busted by HSI

The extradition and arraignment of four Mexican sex traffickers – along with the reunion of a Mexican sex trafficking victim and her child – was announced December 10, 2012, as a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

On Monday, December 10, 2012, two Mexican nationals, Benito Lopez-Perez, 32, and Anastasio Romero-Perez, 39, were arraigned on a 25-count indictment after their extradition from Mexico. The indictment charges the defendants with sex trafficking, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and money laundering offenses, involving victims as young as 14 and 15 years old.

A third defendant in that case, Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez, 51, was extradited from Mexico and arraigned Dec. 3 on the same charges as his co-defendants.

If convicted of sex trafficking, these defendants face mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years and maximum sentences of life in prison.

Another Mexican sex trafficking defendant, Antonio Lira-Robles, 37, was also extradited and arraigned in federal court Nov. 19 in a separate multi-defendant case on charges of sex trafficking, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and money laundering. Four defendants in the Granados-Hernandez case have pleaded guilty to sex trafficking crimes and are awaiting sentencing. Two of the defendants face 15-year mandatory minimum sentences. If convicted of sex trafficking, Lira-Robles faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The successful reunification of a Mexican sex trafficking victim with her child, who was being held in Mexico by members of a trafficking organization, was also announced as part of the investigation. The man who had trafficked the victim and fathered the child was convicted in 2005 of multiple counts of sex trafficking and numerous other crimes in one of the first sex trafficking cases prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). After substantial post-conviction investigation and international coordination, the child was located and reunited with the victim-mother.

“Few crimes are more repugnant than the trafficking of innocent women and girls for sex,” said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. “The extraditions over the weekend followed by the arraignments today are a testament to our resolve to bring to justice those charged with forcing young women into prostitution. HSI places equal value on the identification and rescue of victims as we do for the prosecution of traffickers who prey on them. HSI is committed to working closely with its local and international law enforcement partners to ensure there is no safe haven for those who seek to gain financially through the extortion and coercion of the victims of human and sex trafficking.”

“As alleged, the defendants lured young women into the world’s oldest profession using the world’s oldest ruse – the promise of a committed relationship and a better life. Once here in the United States, the women were cut off from their families and kept dependent on the traffickers, whose promises of love soon turned to lies, beatings, and threats to the victims’ families in order to maintain their hold over them. These latest extraditions and the reunification of a victim with her child are the culmination of a sustained and committed effort by the United States government and its partners in Mexico to work together, and to work with their partners in the community, to identify, prosecute and punish sex traffickers and to restore the dignity and lives of survivors of this heinous crime,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York. “The sex trafficking of young girls and women is modern-day slavery. We will do everything in our power to eradicate it.”

“The Department of Justice commends the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for the tireless dedication her office has shown, placing her district on the cutting edge of the department’s nationwide anti-trafficking efforts. Reuniting this survivor with her child – after the traffickers cruelly tore them apart – vindicates the rights and dignity of the human beings victimized by this crime, and inspires us to continue in our relentless pursuit of justice,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez, Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “We will continue to build strategic partnerships to bring traffickers to justice and deliver on the promise of freedom for victims of modern-day slavery.”

Lopez-Perez Case

As alleged in affidavits submitted in connection with the extradition proceedings, between January 2003 and October 2010, Benito Lopez-Perez, Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez and Anastasio Romero-Perez, who are brothers, are charged with trafficking three young Mexican women, identified in the superseding indictment in this case as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, from Mexico without proper documentation, and forcing them to work as prostitutes in New York and elsewhere in the United States. The defendants recruited and enticed the three victims when they were 14 and 15 years old in Mexico. After luring the victims into intimate relationships through false promises of romance and marriage, the defendants forced the victims to work for the defendants as prostitutes in Mexico. The defendants beat and sexually assaulted the victims to compel them to work as prostitutes and punish them for not earning enough money for the defendants, and the victims were required to turn over all of their earnings to the defendants. The defendants also threatened violence against the victims’ family members to prevent the victims from running away.

In July 2005, Lopez-Perez, Barrientos-Perez and Romero-Perez began smuggling the victims into the United States illegally to work as prostitutes. The defendants housed the victims in apartments in New York. Each day, the victims were driven to locations throughout New York and to other states to engage in prostitution. The three brothers worked together, frequently relying on each other to watch over the victims when any of the brothers traveled back to Mexico.

After the victims had arrived in the United States, the defendants directed the victims to send the money they earned from prostitution to the defendants’ family members in Mexico. At the defendants’ direction, the victims went to various wire transfer service companies in New York on a regular basis and sent sums of money ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to the defendants’ family members in Mexico. The defendants also directed the victims to use fake names when sending the money.

Granados-Hernandez Case

As set forth in extradition affidavits, between October 1998 and June 2011, members of the Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking organization, including Lira-Robles and his cousins Eleuterio Granados-Hernandez, Samuel Granados-Hernandez, and others, smuggled young women from Mexico illegally into the United States, forced them to work as prostitutes in New York and elsewhere in the United States and collected profits from their activities. Eight of the victims of this sex trafficking organization are identified in the third superseding indictment in the Granados-Hernandez case as Jane Doe 1 through Jane Doe 8. The younger male members of the Granados-Hernandez family, including Lira-Robles, Eleuterio Granados-Hernandez and Samuel Granados-Hernandez, recruited the victims by luring them into romantic relationships through false promises of love and support. Eleuterio and Samuel Granados-Hernandez have each pleaded guilty to sex trafficking in the Granados-Hernandez case.

When the victims were first recruited, they were taken to the Granados-Hernandez ‘s hometown, Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, Mexico, usually under false pretenses. Many of the victims were not allowed to leave the Granados-Hernandez homes, and they were not allowed to contact their families. After a short stay at the Granados-Hernandez ‘s homes, Lira-Robles and other members of the organization pressured the victims to travel to the United States.

The victims were smuggled by the Granados-Hernandez organization into the United States illegally. The victims were housed in apartments in New York, often living with other wives or girlfriends of Granados-Hernandez family members. Upon arriving in New York the victims learned, most of them for the first time, that the members of the organization intended for them to work in prostitution. When the victims refused or resisted, Lira-Robles, Eleuterio Granados- Hernandez, Samuel Granados-Hernandez and other members of the organization beat and sexually assaulted the victims to compel them to work as prostitutes. They also threatened to harm the victims’ family members in Mexico to prevent the victims from running away. Some of the victims were initially convinced to work in prostitution through false promises that the victims’ earnings would be used to build a house in Mexico for the victim and her trafficker-boyfriend. The victims were driven on a daily basis to locations throughout New York and to other states to engage in prostitution.

As alleged, Lira-Robles and his co-conspirators worked together in trafficking the victims, frequently relying on each other to maintain control and watch over the victims when the traffickers traveled between Mexico and the United States, to arrange and pay for smuggling of the victims, and to coerce, trick and compel new victims into relationships with Granados-Hernandez family members and into working as prostitutes.

After the victims arrived in the United States, Lira-Robles and others directed the victims to send the money they earned from prostitution to Granados-Hernandez family members in Mexico.

On a regular basis, Lira-Robles directed his victims to go to various wire transfer service companies in New York City and send sums of money ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to Granados family members in Mexico.

Carreto Case/Victim-Child Reunification

The child of one of the victims from the Carreto case was recently rescued in Mexico and was finally able to join the child’s mother in the United States. The victim-mother and her child had been separated by the Carreto organization for over 10 years. The reunification was accomplished through the collaborative efforts of  U.S. and Mexican authorities, non-governmental victim service organizations in both countries and pro bono attorneys in Mexico. In total, through the EDNY anti-trafficking program, 14 children have been reunited with their victim-mothers.

Since 2009, the Department of Justice and HSI have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in the Procuraduría General de la República, the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP), Procuraduría Social de Atención a las Víctimas de Delitos, and non-governmental partners in the United States and Mexico in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative.

Through this initiative, the United States and Mexico have collaborated to bring high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, prosecute human traffickers, rescue human trafficking victims and reunite victims with their families. Other significant bilateral cases have been prosecuted in Atlanta, Ga., and Miami, Fla.

U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division for their assistance in obtaining the extraditions of the defendants, and the victim-child reunification, to the New York City Police Department for its longstanding partnership in EDNY’s coordinated anti-trafficking program, and to the State Department and International Office of Migration for their assistance in the reunification effort. Ms. Lynch also thanked the many victim service providers and advocates for their dedicated efforts to restore and improve the lives of survivors of trafficking.

In particular, Ms. Lynch thanked the organizations and individuals who provided services and advocacy to the victims in the Lopez-Perez, Granados-Hernandez, and Carreto cases: Safe Horizon; Sanctuary for Families; the Urban Justice Center; the New York City Bar Justice Center; The Legal Aid Society, Civil Division (Bronx); My Sister’s Place; Bennu Legal Services; the Hispanic Advocate, IMUMI, attorneys Daniel Palafox Palafox and Luis Rodrigo Iglesias; and the law firms of Steptoe & Johnson; Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett; King & Spalding, and Duane Morris.

EDNY’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program has led to the indictment of 52 defendants in sex trafficking cases, and the rescue of over 100 victims, including 17 minors.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Woman Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking

A former Sacramento woman was sentenced Wednesday, November 28, 2012, to nine years in federal prison on charges stemming from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI that linked her to a scheme to sex traffic teenage girls.

Helen Jean Singh (née Kearney), 22, pleaded guilty earlier in 2012 to participating in a sex trafficking conspiracy involving the prostitution of teenage females. During the sentencing on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, Singh accepted responsibility for her actions.

A federal grand jury indicted Singh and her husband, Mahendar “Mike” Singh, on the sex trafficking conspiracy charge in December 2011. According to the indictment, the pair recruited teenage girls by promising money, drugs and a “family-like environment.” The couple maintained control over their victims by providing drugs, using physical force and threats of physical force, and fostering a climate of fear. The Singh’s used the Internet to advertise their prostitution enterprise, which spanned from SacramentoCounty to multiple Bay Area counties.

“Few crimes strike at our community the way sex trafficking does,” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said. “By sexually exploiting children and young adults for financial gain, sex traffickers have shown that greed has no bounds. My office will continue to lead efforts by law enforcement to fight the menace that is sex trafficking.”

The Singhs were arrested in August 2011 after the South San Francisco Police Department responded to a motel near the San FranciscoAirport and found Mahendar Singh with three teenage girls. The affidavit alleges the defendants used an Internet website to advertise their victims and employed cell phones and text-messaging to make arrangements with customers.

“While no prison sentence can ever compensate for the physical and emotional toll experienced by trafficking victims, this lengthy prison term should serve as a sobering warning about the consequences facing those who engage in this reprehensible practice,” said Clark Settles, special agent in charge ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco. “Human traffickers prey on the powerless and the vulnerable. ICE Homeland Security Investigations and its federal law enforcement partners are committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”

“The FBI will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue and bring to justice sex traffickers who exploit and victimize juveniles,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Gavin of FBI San Francisco. “We will also work with our community partners to help those who are victimized get the assistance they need.”

In addition to HSI and the FBI, the other agencies involved in the case included the South San Francisco Police Department; the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office; the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division; U.S. Department of Justice; and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton. Judge Hamilton also sentenced Helen Singh, who was and will remain in custody, to a five-year period of supervised release following her prison term and ordered her to forfeit property and make restitution of $45,000 to one of the victims. Mahendar Singh, who also pleaded guilty previously, received the same sentence April 18.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew S. Huang prosecuted the case with the assistance of legal assistant Vanessa Vargas.

Anyone who suspects instances of human trafficking is encouraged to call the HSI tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE (866-347-2423) or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. Anonymous calls are welcome.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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