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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Miami man charged for operating online prostitution ring

Forcibly trafficked women to staff sex-for-hire business across the nation

DETROIT - A Miami man was arraigned in federal court here today for his role in operating a multi-state prostitution ring uncovered by a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-led investigation.

Rafael Bernabe-Caballero, 32, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with multiple counts of sex trafficking by force, prostitution and importation of an alien for immoral purposes. Another defendant named in the indictment is Michael Porru, who will be arraigned on March 23, 2009.

The 21-page indictment alleges that Bernabe-Caballero operated www.miamiultimate.com between March 2007 and November 2008, using the website to market women for prostitution and to solicit johns around the country and in Metro Detroit.

The website, which has since been seized by ICE agents, was re-launched in an effort to collect more information on potential victims and past clients.

The website now has contact information for the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit and an email address: MUinfo@dhs.gov.

According to the indictment, Bernabe-Caballero would recruit women under the guise of an escort service and then force the women to perform sexual acts on the website's clients with the threat of physical harm, death or exposure of their status to immigration officials.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jennifer Blackwell and Mark Chasteen.