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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Guatemalan man sentenced for sexually abusing teen human trafficking victim

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A Guatemalan man illegally present in the United States was sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison Thursday for sexually abusing a teenage Guatemalan girl he illegally trafficked across the Mexican border. The sentencing follows an initial arrest in July 2012 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and subsequent investigation by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

According to court documents, German Rolando Vicente-Sapon, 41, of Guatemala, accepted a $2,000 payment to smuggle the 16-year-old victim across the border and transport her to Chattanooga. Once she arrived, Vicente-Sapon coerced the teenage victim into having sex, and she relented, believing she did not have a choice.

"Sexual predators pose a significant threat to the safety of children everywhere and HSI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice," said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. Parmer oversees a five-state region including Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

In addition to transporting a minor across the border to commit criminal sexual activity, the jury also found Vicente-Sapon guilty of coercing a minor and of importing an alien for an immoral purpose. He was convicted on the three charges Nov. 15.

Following the completion of his prison sentence Vicente-Sapon faces removal from the United States.

"ICE will continue to focus its enforcement operations on identifying, arresting and removing dangerous criminals who pose the greatest risk to our communities," said John S. Milian, acting field office director for ERO New Orleans. Milian also oversees a five-state area of operations to include Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

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 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair 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.