MIAMI - A member of a conspiracy that lured young women and girls from Mexico to the United States with false promises of a better life and then forced them into modern day-slavery in a network of brothels that spanned the East Coast was sentenced here today for conspiring to smuggle Mexican women and girls into the United States and forcing them to engage in prostitution by means of intimidation, violence and threats of physical harm.
Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a special assessment of $200 by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez. He was further ordered to pay jointly with his co-defendants $964,175.60 in restitution to the victims.
In 1998, 15 defendants were charged in a superseding indictment in this matter. Cadena-Sosa remained a fugitive until he was extradited from Mexico to the United States in November 2007 to face the charges in Florida, where the exploitation took place. Nine defendants, including Cadena-Sosa, have now been found guilty in U.S. Federal Court. One defendant was convicted in Florida State Court on charges arising from this criminal operation. Another was convicted on related charges in Mexico. A third defendant died while a fugitive. Three additional defendants remain at large. Those convicted in U.S. Federal Court have received criminal sentences ranging from 30 months to 15 years in prison.
It is estimated that 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. These victims are trafficked into the international sex trade and into forced labor situations throughout the world. Many of these victims are lured from their homes with the false promise of well-paying jobs and then forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor or other types of forced labor ICE's Trafficking in Persons Strategy (ICE TIPS) to target criminal organizations and individuals engaged in human trafficking worldwide. ICE's latest initiative to target individuals and companies suspected of using people as modern day slaves, holding them against their will and forcing them into sexual servitude is taking the campaign directly to the American public and asking for their help in spotting these heinous crimes.
Human trafficking investigations are a top priority of the Department of Justice. Over the past seven years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court, compared to the previous seven years. In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division Grace Chung Becker and U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta commended U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office; the Lake Worth Police Department; the West Palm Beach Police Department; the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office; the Fort Pierce Police Department; the Avon Park Police Department; the Boynton Beach Police Department and the Lee County Sheriff's Office for their work in this cooperative investigation and prosecution.
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Millien and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Jim Felte prosecuted the case.
If anyone knows or suspects someone is being held against their will contact the ICE tip line anonymously at 866-DHS-2-ICE. You can also view or download the video PSA at .www.ice.gov