Wednesday, February 24, 2010

US: Sex Trafficking Convictions & Indictments Oct-Feb

Below is a list of federal sex trafficking convictions or indictments in the United States from the last five months. Each case has a link to a further story: (Thanks to the US Department of Justice, Trafficking Prosecution Unit for sharing this with us.)

On February 3, 2010, defendant Miguel Angel Rugerio was sentenced in federal district court in Atlanta, Georgia, to sixty months in prison for his role in a sex trafficking conspiracy. He pled guilty to the offense on October 29, 2009. The defendant and his co-conspirators were charged in United States v. Rugerio with engaging in a scheme to lure young, vulnerable victims from Mexico on promises of a better life, and then to use threats, assaults, and psychological coercion to compel the victims into prostitution for the defendants’ profit.

Last week, on January 28, 2010, a defendant was sentenced in United States v. Cooney in the Eastern District of Arkansas to 90 months’ imprisonment pursuant to his guilty plea on one count of sex trafficking. His co-defendant, who pled guilty on October 23, 2009, in connection with the sex trafficking scheme that targeted U.S. citizen victims, is awaiting sentencing.

Also last week, on January 25, 2010, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Mendez affirmed the 50-year sentence of a sex trafficker who was charged in the Western District of Tennessee in a scheme to lure young women and girls from Mexico on false promises of legitimate jobs, and then force them into prostitution, abusing them both physically and sexually and confiscating all their earnings. The affirmance in Mendez came shortly after another co-defendant in that case, Cristina Andres Perfecto, was sentenced on December 24, 2009 to 190 months for her role in the sex trafficking operation. A total of eleven defendants were convicted in connection with the case.

At the conclusion of a three-day sex trafficking trial, a San Diego, California jury returned convictions on January 8, 2010, on ten counts, including two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, for luring young Mexican victims into the United States and compelling them into prostitution through intimidation, fear, and psychological coercion. The defendant in that case, United States v. Zitlalpopoca-Hernandez, is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

On December 17, 2009, a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska indicted four co-defendants in United States v. Mujahid, on sex trafficking and related charges arising from a criminal enterprise that compelled U.S. citizen victims, both adults and minors, into prostitution, using threats, physical assaults, and sexual assaults to control the victims if they disobeyed or attempted to leave, and requiring the victims to turn over the proceeds to the defendants.

On November 17, 2009, defendant Consuelo Carreto Valencia was sentenced to 121 months in prison for her role in the Carreto family sex trafficking ring that compelled young Mexican women and girls into prostitution in New York, for the profit of the defendants, using threats, physical assaults, psychological manipulation, and control over the victims’ children to hold the victims in fear and under the defendants’ control. The two lead defendants in the case, Carreto Valencia’s sons, had each been sentenced to fifty years’ imprisonment, preceding Carreto Valencia’s extradition from Mexico. On October 28, 2009, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lead defendants’ convictions and fifty-year sentences.

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