ATLANTA – Three Mexican citizens are in federal custody on sex trafficking charges in Atlanta following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the FBI.
Arturo Rojas-Coyotl, Odilon Martinez-Rojas and Severiano Martinez-Rojas, all of Tenancingo in the State of Tlaxcala, Mexico have been indicted on charges of sex trafficking and alien harboring. A fourth man, Daniel Garcia-Tepal, also of Tlaxcala, Mexico, is charged with encouraging and inducing aliens to enter and reside in the United States unlawfully.
"Sex trafficking is a malicious crime whether the victims are American citizens or foreign nationals," said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. "The defendants are charged with preying on young women from Mexico and Guatemala, smuggling them into the United States under false pretenses, and forcing them into prostitution. U.S. laws protect all trafficking victims, and we will prosecute those who engage in this practice."
"The enslavement of women forced into prostitution is a heinous crime that occurs all too frequently in our communities," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of HSI Atlanta. "Across the country, law enforcement agencies from the federal to the local level are teaming up to identify, arrest and prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of others. This case could not have happened without the excellent relationships we have with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia."
Mark F. Giuliano, special agent in charge of the FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: "Today’s indictments and subsequent arrests are a continuation of the federal law enforcement effort to stem the international trafficking of individuals to fuel the commercial sex industry here in the U.S. and in particular in Atlanta. The FBI asks that anyone with information regarding this type of activity to contact their nearest FBI field office immediately."
According to Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Rojas-Coyotl and his uncles Odilon Martinez-Rojas and Severiano Martinez-Rojas used force, fraud and coercion to compel three women to engage in prostitution in Atlanta and Norcross at various times between 2006 and 2008. Daniel Garcia-Tepal and Arturo Rojas-Coyotl are also charged with encouraging and inducing a fourth woman to unlawfully enter and remain in the United States between 2010 and 2013.
Special agents from the FBI and HSI arrested Arturuo Rojas-Coyotl, Odilon Martinez-Rojas, and Daniel Garcia-Tepal in a highly coordinated law enforcement sweep Tuesday. Severiano Martinez-Rojas remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Mexico. The FBI will coordinate with its legal attaché in Mexico City to affect his arrest and subsequent extradition back to the United States. Four search warrants were also executed today in Atlanta and Norcross in conjunction with the arrests.
Each sex trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison while each alien harboring charge has a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, with all counts carrying a fine of up to $250,000 each. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Assistant United States Attorney Susan Coppedge and Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prosecuting the case.