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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
09/11/2013

Brothel operator sentenced to more than 19 years in prison on sex trafficking charges

BALTIMORE — A Honduran citizen was sentenced to more than 19 years in federal prison for conspiring to transport and entice females to travel interstate for prostitution and sex trafficking by force and fraud.

Kevin Garcia Fuertes aka Kerlin Esquivel-Feuntes, 26, illegally residing in Annapolis and Richmond, Va., was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles Jr. to 235 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Judge Quarles further imposed a special condition that upon the completion of his sentence, that Fuertes must cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding deportation proceedings.

The sentence follows an investigation by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, and the Annapolis and Easton police departments.

"Kevin Garcia Fuertes' sentencing represents another successful HSI investigation worked jointly with our local law enforcement partners that led to the breakup of a prostitution scheme uncovered in Maryland," said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William Winter. "The defendants not only exploited women for personal profit, they also used violence, coercion and intimidation. HSI will continue to use its resources and work closely with other law enforcement agencies to stop these types of criminal enterprises that are operating in our communities."

According to evidence presented during his two-week trial, since at least March 2008 through November 2010, Fuertes and co-defendant German de Jesus Ventura, 35, a citizen of El Salvador illegally residing in Capitol Heights, Md., ran brothels in Annapolis and Easton. Ventura, the ringleader, employed Fuertes to advertise and manage the brothels, and the two men shared the cash proceeds of the prostitution business. The defendants recruited and employed prostitutes, many of whom were aliens unlawfully present in the United States. Ventura arranged for vans and other vehicles to transport females within Maryland and across state lines to engage in prostitution. Ventura assaulted and threatened to use violence against one prostitute to coerce her continued participation in prostitution, threatened to use violence against competitor pimps and sought to intimidate others who assisted his prostitutes. Fuertes knew of and financially benefitted from Ventura's actions.

German de Jesus Ventura was also convicted at trial and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy count; a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison to a maximum of life in prison for the sex trafficking count; a maximum of life in prison for possessing a gun in furtherance of sex trafficking and 10 years in prison each for transporting individuals to engage in prostitution and for enticement. Ventura is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1 at 1 p.m.

Jose Antonio Reyes-Maradiaga, 30, of Annapolis, and Isidro Jiminez-Sanchez and Wibert Alejandro Herrera-Aranda, both 34 and from Easton, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the scheme. These defendants advertised Ventura's brothels, made appointments for the prostitutes and collected money. Reyes also helped to transport the women to the brothel locations and purchased supplies. Jiminez-Sanchez, a Mexican citizen who entered the United States illegally, was sentenced to a year and day for transporting prostitutes, and upon completion of his sentence, was deported from the United States to Mexico. Herrera-Aranda was sentenced to 18 months in prison and Reyes was sentenced to time served. Both were also deported.

This case originated with the Annapolis Police Department and was subsequently investigated by members of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md/Human-Trafficking/index.html.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys P. Michael Cunningham and Rachel M. Yasser for the District of Maryland.