Making Immigration Happen
Chicago Woman Arrested for Selling Fraudulent Identity Documents to Illegal Aliens
A woman was arrested Wednesday, February 13, 2013, on charges she allegedly sold fraudulent identity documents to illegal aliens. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigra

Tag Archives: prostitution

Operation Dark Night Charges 13 Additional Defendants for Sex Trafficking

A superseding indictment, returned Thursday, February 7, 2013, in federal court, has added 13 more defendants for their roles in an alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring operating in Mexico, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and elsewhere. In total, 25 defendants have now been charged in the superseding indictment, which follows the original 12-defendant indictment returned in January.

The federal charges follow a lengthy investigation dubbed “Operation Dark Night,” led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). In addition to the 12 arrests and nearly 20 search warrants executed in January, federal authorities rescued 11 women alleged to have been forced into prostitution. The investigation of this case remains ongoing.

United States Attorney Edward Tarver said, “The superseding indictment adds even more gruesome details to the allegations of an already reprehensible human trafficking ring operating within our very own communities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will not stop until all of those responsible are brought to justice.”

“The superseding indictment alleges that this sex trafficking ring was even more extensive and ruthless,” said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. “Over a dozen new suspects, including ‘johns,’ have now been added. Of more concern are new allegations that members of this conspiracy arranged to hold some of their victims’ children hostage in Mexico to ensure their compliance as prostitutes in the United States. The investigation in Operation Dark Night will continue until we have rooted out all of the bad actors in this conspiracy and have brought them to justice.”

According to allegations in the superseding indictment, some of the defendants would entice women from Mexico and elsewhere to travel to the United States with false promises of the American dream. Once inside the United States, these women were allegedly threatened and forced to commit acts of prostitution at numerous locations in Savannah, Ga., and throughout the southeast. Women were alleged to have been forced to perform as many as 25 acts of prostitution a day.

Tarver stressed that an indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

HSI provides relief to victims of human trafficking by allowing for their continued presence in the United States during criminal proceedings. Victims may also qualify for a T-visa, which is issued to victims of human trafficking who have complied with reasonable requests for assistance in investigations and prosecutions. 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 1-888-373-7888. Anonymous calls are welcome.

Operation Dark Night was led by HSI, with assistance from the FBI; the ATF; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP); CBP Air and Marine Operations; Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS); IRS-Criminal Investigations; the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department; the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office; the Garden City Police Department; and, the Chatham County Counter Narcotics Team.

Man Pleads Guilty to Transporting Prostitutes to Massage Parlor

An Annandale, Va., man pleaded guilty Wednesday, October 31, 2012, to operating an unlicensed taxi business that brought women from other states to perform sexual services for patrons at an Annandale-based massage parlor.

The case was investigated by the Washington, D.C. offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance by the Fairfax County Police Department.

Jin Seob Oh, 41, originally from South Korea, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport women to engage in prostitution, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2013.

In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Oh admitted that from 2010 to June 2012, he owned and operated an unlicensed taxi business known as “Royal Taxi.” From February 2011 to April 2012, Oh served as the primary taxi driver for women who worked at “Peach Therapy,” a massage parlor located in Annandale that provided sexual services to customers.

The former owner of Peach Therapy, Susan Lee Gross, also known as “Ju Mee Lee Gross,” 46, originally from South Korea but now of Trinidad, Colo., encouraged or instructed the women to only obtain transportation from Oh to minimize the number of people who knew the details about the women working at Peach Therapy, the sexual nature of the business, and how they were transported to the massage parlor. The women paid him $40 per trip.

At the direction of Lee Gross, Oh also deposited thousands of dollars of proceeds from commercial sexual activity into Bank of America accounts that belonged to Lee Gross and those opened in the name of a family member. He admitted that he understood that these bank accounts were used to conceal the unlawful source of the money and to ensure that activity could continue.

This case was investigated by HSI, which participates in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, as does IRS-CI and NCIS.

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 2011 to the present, 44 defendants have been prosecuted in 25 cases in the Eastern District of Virginia for human trafficking and trafficking-related conduct involving at least 32 victims.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Frank is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal Alien Arrested for Sex Trafficking

A Maryland man was arrested late September 5, 2012, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents on federal charges of transporting a teen girl as part of his prostitution business.

Julio Cesar Revolorio Ramos, 28, of Adelphi, Md., a native of Guatemala illegally present in the United States, faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted.

“Sex trafficking of a minor is a particularly heinous crime,” said John P. Torres, special agent in charge of HSI Washington, D.C. “HSI is fully committed to working with our law enforcement partners, both locally and internationally, to combat the crime of human trafficking.”

According to court documents, Ramos allegedly operated a prostitution service that transported women from Maryland to engage in commercial sex with clients in northern Virginia. Starting in January 2009 – when the victim was 15 years old – Ramos allegedly prostituted the teen girl from Maryland, and he continued to prostitute her at various times over the next year and a half. Court records allege that the victim was recruited by Ramos’s girlfriend and that the victim lived with them at a residence in Hyattsville, Md.

“We have zero-tolerance for those who exploit vulnerable teen girls for profit,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Juvenile prostitution is an unconscionable crime, and we’re determined to put these prostitution rings out of business in northern Virginia.”

“Juvenile sex traffickers represent the worst kind of predators – those who go after children,” said Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, II. “My office remains committed to protecting Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens from these predators. It is my hope that this arrest will put us one step closer to eradicating human trafficking in Virginia, which is why this task force was put together.”

This case was investigated by HSI with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Virginia Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Birnbaum and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael 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.

Hearings Set for Two Leaders of Alien Trafficking and Prostitution Ring

Two individuals were scheduled to have detention hearings Wednesday, June 27, 2012, in El Paso federal court in connection with a prostitution scheme involving a minor. The hearings were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, Western District of Texas; FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan; and Special Agent in Charge Dennis Ulrich of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso.

Charles Marquez, 51, ofEl Paso, and Martha Jimenez Sanchez, 38, of Juarez, Mexico, were both charged after a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment on the following crimes: one count of sex trafficking children, one count of conspiracy to coerce and entice illegal aliens to engage in sexual activity, and importing an illegal alien for immoral purposes. Marquez is also charged with one count of coercion and enticement; and Jimenez is additionally charged with one count of transportation for prostitution.

The indictment alleges that from August 2007 through February 2012, the defendants aided and abetted one another, and conspired to implement a prostitution scheme involving a minor. The defendants recruited females in Mexico by placing ads in a Ciudad  Juarez, Mexico, newspaper offering jobs in the United States. Once recruited, the defendants arranged to transport the females to El Paso and harbor them in local motels to work as prostitutes.

Federal authorities arrested Marquez June 21, and Sanchez the following day. If convicted of sex trafficking children, the defendants face between 10 years to life in federal prison. Importing an illegal alien for immoral purposes is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment; and conspiracy to coerce and entice a minor to engage in sexual activity is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Also, Marquez faces up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted of the coercion charge; Jimenez, up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction of the transportation for prostitution charge.

Marquez is scheduled to have his detention hearing Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa, and Jimenez before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert F. Castaneda.

This case was investigated jointly by the FBI and HSI as part of the nationwide Operation “Cross Country” which focuses on child prostitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rifian Newaz, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.

Illegal Alien Brothers Busted for Prostitution Ring

An interstate prostitution ring based in Indianapolis that was operated by three brothers – all illegal aliens – has been dismantled and the brothers sentenced, announced Joseph H. Hogsett, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

This prosecution was the result of an extensive investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, including: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); FBI; the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department; the Marion County Sheriff’s Department; and the Addison (Ill.) Police Department.

Gregorio Hernandez-Castilla, 34, of Indianapolis, was sentenced May 9 by U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to operate an interstate prostitution ring with his two brothers.

This follows the sentencing of both Jose Luis Hernandez-Castilla, of Indianapolis, and Norberto Hernandez-Castilla, of Chicago, to 51 months in prison each on similar charges. All three men were illegally residing in the United States.

“For years, this criminal organization moved women like human merchandise all over
this city and across the Midwest,” Hogsett said. “I am proud to announce today that we have finalized our effort to completely dismantle this dangerous group, bringing an end to their cycle of exploitation.”

According to Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gayle L. Helart and Bradley P. Shepard, who prosecuted the case for the government, Judge Lawrence found in sentencing the Hernandez-Castilla brothers that all three had used force and the threat of force against women involved in their criminal operation in an effort to coerce their continued cooperation.

“Our office has made it a priority to aggressively prosecute individuals who capitalize on the misfortune of others,” Hogsett said. “Through the groundbreaking work of our front-line federal prosecutors, we will continue to pursue and hold accountable those found guilty of such heinous crimes.”

The Hernandez-Castilla criminal organization was headed by the three brothers and
had been operating for a number of years in the Indianapolis area, largely under the
direction of Jose Luis Hernandez-Castilla. The brothers would acquire women to act as prostitutes, on many occasions smuggling them into the United States from Mexico
and Central America. Once here, many were often without a means by which to make money, and thus would engage in prostitution so as to pay off debts they owed the brothers for subsidizing their entry into the country.

In addition, the brothers directed another group of individuals who acted as local
managers, running prostitution operations out of apartments and houses located
throughout Indianapolis and in surrounding states, including Michigan, Illinois
and Ohio. The women engaged in prostitution were rarely allowed to stay in any one location for more than a week, and the operation employed numerous drivers who would
transport the women from one site to another on a regular basis.

The organization itself operated almost exclusively within the Hispanic community,
advertising its services through the distribution of business cards bearing advertisements and telephone numbers for auto repair or western wear outfitters. These business cards were known within the Hispanic community as contact numbers for arranging appointments with prostitutes.

Each appointment, referred to as a “ticket,” cost between $40 and $50.

In addition to the Hernandez-Castilla brothers, twelve other named defendants are
facing charges for their roles in the operation. They include the following individuals, all of whom are illegal aliens and were Indianapolis residents, unless otherwise indicated:

  • Elvin Herrera
  • Hector Elizalde-Hernandez
  • Javier Aguilera-Sanchez (Mich.)
  • Fredy Arnulfo Valle-Soto
  • Jose Mejia
  • Reynel Lagos-Martinez (Ohio)
  • Dominga Polanco
  • Israel Ortiz
  • Jorge Armando Rodriguez-Sanchez
  • Julio Aguilar-Rodriguez *
  • Fortino Ramirez-Fernandez *
  • Santos Nunez *

*Note: Julio Aguilar-Rodriguez has a change-of-plea and sentencing hearing scheduled
for May 30, 2012. Fortino Ramirez-Fernandez and Santos Nunez remain fugitives at this time.

A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Owner of Georgia Bordello Pleads Guilty to Harboring of Illegal Aliens

A Marietta, Ga., woman pleaded guilty Friday, April 20, to conspiracy to entice individuals to cross state lines to engage in prostitution and to encourage and induce aliens to reside unlawfully in the United States, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the Cobb County Police Department.

According to court documents, Luz Gutierrez, 56, operated a house of prostitution in Marietta, in which she employed illegal aliens both as house caretakers and prostitutes. In addition to employing prostitutes who lived in Georgia, Gutierrez regularly solicited illegal alien prostitutes living in other states, including Alabama, Florida, North Carolina and Massachusetts, to travel to Georgia, where they worked for Gutierrez and Epifania Sanchez Delarosa, her co-defendant, who also allegedly operated brothels. Gutierrez also recruited
prostitutes who lived in Georgia to travel to Alabama and work for an associate of Gutierrez who owned and managed brothels in that state.

Gutierrez was indicted in December on two counts of conspiracy, two counts of enticing
individuals to cross state lines to engage in prostitution, and two counts of encouraging and inducing aliens to reside unlawfully in the United States. She pleaded guilty to one conspiracy count. She could receive a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 10 before United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten.

ICE Investigates Teen Prostitution Ring

The U.S. attorney for the district of Connecticut, David B. Fein, acknowledged U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for its relentless investigation of a Connecticut man who pleaded guilty on October 25, 2011 to one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

The guilty plea by Theodore Briggs, also known as “PeeJaye,” 23, of Norwalk, Connecticut, was announced by Fein, who credited HSI and the Norwalk Police Department with bringing Briggs to justice.

“The U.S. attorney’s office is committed to prosecuting sex trafficking crimes that involve the victimization of minors,” stated U.S. Attorney Fein. “I want to commend ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the Norwalk Police Department for their vigilance in investigating this heinous criminal activity.”

“We view this acknowledgement as a testament to our unwavering commitment to investigate these crimes cooperatively with local law enforcement to develop the strongest evidence possible to successfully prosecute these cases,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI in New England. “Our efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute child predators remain relentless.”

According to court records, Briggs and others were involved in a prostitution business. In pleading guilty, Briggs admitted that, in November and December 2010, he knowingly prostituted a minor female victim. At the time, the girl was 14 years old. Briggs and others transported the girl from Connecticut to New York and Atlantic City, N.J., to engage in prostitution. As part of his prostitution enterprise, Briggs posted photographs of the young victim on a website known as Briggs kept most, if not all of the proceeds that the victim earned for engaging in sex acts with men.

Briggs is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall on Jan.13, 2012. He faces a mandatory minimum 10-year prison term and a maximum term of imprisonment for life.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alina P. Reynolds and Krishna R. Patel prosecuted this case which was heard by U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport.