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June 25, 2014New York, NY, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Member of New York-based Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking organization sentenced to more than 15 years in prison

NEW YORK — A member of the Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking organization was sentenced to 188 months in prison Wednesday. The sentencing stems from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

In addition to the 188 months imprisonment, Antonio Lira-Robles, 38, of Mexico, was sentenced to five years supervised release, for the sex trafficking of one victim, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of approximately $1.2 million.

On Dec. 19, 2013, Lira-Robles pleaded guilty to one count of a superseding indictment, which charged that between October 2000 and April 2011, he smuggled a victim from Mexico illegally into the United States and forced her to engage in prostitution. Over approximately 10 years, Lira-Robles was a member of the Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking organization. As part of the trafficking scheme engaged in by the organization, Lira-Robles and his co-conspirators started romantic relationships with females in Mexico and then lured them to the United States with the false promise of a better life. Each of these victims was transported by a member of the organization, with the intent that they would engage in prostitution. Once in the United States, the organization forced victims into prostitution by threats, coercion and violence. For each of the victims, the organization kept all of the proceeds from the prostitution.

Lira-Robles was responsible for the sex trafficking of Jane Doe No. 1 and the recruitment of Jane Doe No. 4. Lira-Robles’ conduct towards both of these victims shows the same pattern of criminal conduct and abuse. In 1999, Lira-Robles recruited Jane Doe No. 1 in Tenancingo, Mexico, soon began a relationship with her and moved her into his parents’ home. Shortly thereafter, Jane Doe No. 1 became pregnant and Lira-Robles forced her to abort the child. Lira-Robles then forced Jane Doe No. 1, through threats and physical violence, to begin prostituting in Mexico City. In June 2000, Lira-Robles and Jane Doe No. 1 travelled to Queens. Upon their arrival, Jane Doe No. 1 stated that she did not want to work as a prostitute, to which Lira-Robles responded by physically assaulting her. As a result of the defendant’s violence towards her, Jane Doe No. 1 worked for Lira-Robles in New York and Boston from 2001 to 2010 and gave all the prostitution proceeds to him.

During the same time period as his involvement with Jane Doe No. 1, Lira-Robles recruited Jane Doe No. 4. Similar to his relationship with Jane Doe No. 1, Lira-Robles began a romantic relationship with Jane Doe No. 4 and suggested they travel to the U.S. Upon their arrival, Lira-Robles told Jane Doe No. 4 that in order to pay off the smuggling debt she had to work as a prostitute. Jane Doe No. 4 worked for Lira-Robles from approximately 2004 until 2010.

At the sentencing, Jane Doe No. 1 stated that, “I was a victim of sex trafficking and forced into prostitution because of Antonio [Lira Robles].” Jane Doe No. 1 described in detail the extreme abuse she suffered under the control of Lira-Robles, stating “He did not treat me like a human being. He treated me like a sexual robot.” Jane Doe No. 1 further stated: “For years I cried in silence. I carried the scars of Antonio’s abuse every day, but I can no longer be silent. I am here today so Antonio and his family will no longer be able to force another woman into prostitution.”

Lira-Robles’ cousins, Samuel Granados-Hernandez, Eleuterio Granados-Hernandez and Angel Cortez-Granados, also smuggled young women from Mexico illegally into the United States, forced them to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere, and collected profits from their activities. Each of the three defendants pleaded guilty to sex trafficking. In September 2013, Cortez-Granados was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In March 2014, Eleuterio Granados-Hernandez was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the sex trafficking of five victims. In May 2014, Samuel Granados was sentenced to 15 years for the sex trafficking of three victims.