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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
11/02/2015

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9 charged in interstate human trafficking conspiracy

PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A federal grand jury returned a 32-count indictment charging nine defendants, all residing in the United States illegally, in an interstate human trafficking conspiracy. This case resulted from a 15-month investigation into human trafficking activities in the Northern District of Florida by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Panama City office and the FBI.

The defendants are:

  • Edegardo Osorno Rodriguez, 37, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Antonio Flores-Vargas, 31, Pensacola, Florida;
  • Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 40, Montgomery, Alabama;
  • Jose Alvaro Trujillo-Santiz, 45, Panama City Beach, Florida;
  • Rosa Mirtha Cruz Vidal, 34, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida;
  • Mauro Gonzalez-Lira, 24, McComb, Mississippi;
  • Romon Tobon, 45, Starkville, Mississippi;
  • Lazaro Juarez-Juarez, 33, Atlanta, Georgia; and
  • Emerson Corvera, 30, Montgomery, Alabama.

The indictment alleges that, between July 2014 and August 2015, the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to transport, harbor and market female aliens for prostitution in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana and thereafter wired the prostitution proceeds outside the United States. In addition to the conspiracy, the defendants are also charged with: 13 counts of enticing individuals to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution; four counts of money laundering; seven counts of transporting individuals in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution; six counts of harboring an alien for the purpose of prostitution; and illegal entry by a deported alien.

“Our communities are safer today, thanks to the hard work of our HSI special agents and our partners with the FBI,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “These arrests represent more than a year of intense investigative work and help highlight HSI’s commitment to the end of human trafficking.”

These cases are a follow-up prosecution to the case of Jacobo Feliciano-Francisco, a/k/a “Kiko”, 32, of Panama City, who was sentenced Oct. 15, 2014, to spend the remainder of his life in prison after he was convicted of kidnapping, retaliating against a witness, conspiracy, and transportation and of an individual in interstate commerce for prostitution.

As part of this investigation, federal agents executed six search warrants yesterday at the following locations: two in Pensacola, one in Santa Rosa Beach, one in Panama City Beach, one in Montgomery, Alabama, and one in Laurel, Mississippi. The ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) teams in Tallahassee and Jacksonville and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Marine Interdiction Agents assisted with the arrests. The trial is scheduled for Jan. 4, 2016.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 11/02/2015