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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Detention hearings scheduled for pair arrested for human trafficking

EL PASO, Texas – Two individuals are scheduled to have detention hearings Wednesday in El Paso federal court in connection with a prostitution scheme involving a minor. The hearings were announced by U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman, Western District of Texas; FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan; and Special Agent in Charge Dennis Ulrich of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso.

Charles Marquez, 51, of El Paso, and Martha Jimenez Sanchez, 38, of Juarez, Mexico, were both charged after a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment on the following crimes: one count of sex trafficking children, one count of conspiracy to coerce and entice illegal aliens to engage in sexual activity, and importing an illegal alien for immoral purposes. Marquez is also charged with one count of coercion and enticement; and Jimenez is additionally charged with one count of transportation for prostitution.

The indictment alleges that from August 2007 through February 2012, the defendants aided and abetted one another, and conspired to implement a prostitution scheme involving a minor. The defendants recruited females in Mexico by placing ads in a Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, newspaper offering jobs in the United States. Once recruited, the defendants arranged to transport the females to El Paso and harbor them in local motels to work as prostitutes.

Federal authorities arrested Marquez June 21, and Sanchez the following day. If convicted of sex trafficking children, the defendants face between 10 years to life in federal prison. Importing an illegal alien for immoral purposes is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment; and conspiracy to coerce and entice a minor to engage in sexual activity is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. Also, Marquez faces up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted of the coercion charge; Jimenez, up to 10 years imprisonment upon conviction of the transportation for prostitution charge.

Marquez is scheduled to have his detention hearing Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Mesa, and Jimenez before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert F. Castaneda.

This case was investigated jointly by the FBI and HSI as part of the nationwide Operation "Cross Country" which focuses on child prostitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rifian Newaz, Western District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.