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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

3 Mexican citizens sentenced to 15 years for sex trafficking

Miami – Three Mexican citizens were sentenced to 15 years in prison Wednesday for conspiring to force Mexican women to engage in prostitution, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The defendants pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge in August.

According to evidence presented in court, from 1999 through December 2010, Israel Cortes-Morales, 31, Alberto Cortes-Castro, 30, and Ernesto Cortes-Castro, 26, forced multiple Mexican women to engage in prostitution in the United States for the defendants' financial benefit.

With false promises of a better life, legitimate employment and marriage, the defendants lured victims from their homes in Mexico to this country, knowing that they would actually force the women to be prostitutes in the United States.

The victims were compelled, through threats, psychological coercion and other means, to work within a prostitution circuit that spanned the east coast of the United States, including cities like Miami.

Earlier this year, Mexican authorities successfully prosecuted a fourth defendant charged in the conspiracy, Jorge Velasquez, 24, for his role in the commercial sex trafficking ring. Velasquez was sentenced in Mexico to more than18 years in prison.

Anyone who knows or suspects that someone is involved with smuggling should contact ICE HSI via its tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or its online tip form.