ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An illegal alien from Mexico who lived in Riverdale, Md., pleaded guilty Monday to transporting more than 100 women from other states to engage in commercial sex in Virginia.
The case was investigated by the Transnational Gang Unit of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which participates in the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force.
Marco Sanchez Hernandez, also known as "Marquito," 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport women to engage in prostitution. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 4, 2013.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Sanchez Hernandez admitted that from 2005 through July 2012 he 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. The women were instructed to charge $30 for 15 minutes of sex. In addition to transporting women to engage in sex acts, Sanchez Hernandez collected money from various drivers who also transported the women to the homes of customers. He also 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 leader of the organization, who resides in Mexico.
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 2011 to the present, 40 defendants have been prosecuted in 22 cases in the Eastern District of Virginia for human trafficking and trafficking-related conduct, involving at least 31 victims. Twelve of those defendants were gang members or associates prosecuted for sex trafficking juveniles in northern Virginia, with sentences imposed ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.
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.