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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Mexican woman pleads guilty to sex trafficking

Admits role in family organization that forced young women into sexual slavery in New York

BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A Mexican woman pleaded guilty today to sex trafficking following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Consuelo Carreto Valencia pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of sex trafficking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591, for benefiting financially from her participation in an organization that transported young Mexican women to the United States and forced them into prostitution.

From 1991 through 2004, Carreto Valencia served as a manager in her family's sex trafficking operation, which was based in San Miguel de Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, Mexico. CarretoValencia, and her sons Josue Flores Carreto and Gerardo Flores Carreto, and other coconspirators, recruited young, uneducated women and girls from impoverished areas of Mexico and used or approved of a combination of deception, fraud, rape, forced abortion, threats, and physical violence to compel them into prostitution in brothels throughout the New York City metropolitan area, including Queens and Brooklyn. Carreto Valencia and her family made hundreds of thousands of dollars in prostitution profits, while the women who had been separated from their families in Mexico received next to nothing.

"Few crimes are more vile than sex trafficking helpless victims - it is nothing less than modern-day slavery," said Peter J. Smith, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Office of Investigation for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York City. "ICE will vigorously pursue and prosecute any members of a criminal enterprise engaged in this dangerous, dehumanizing, and illegal business."

During her guilty plea allocution, Carreto Valencia admitted that while living in Mexico, she received wire transfers of money from New York, fully aware that they were the proceeds of acts of prostitution performed by women who had been recruited and smuggled into the United States by her sons, Josue Flores Carreto and Gerardo Flores Carreto, and others. Carreto Valencia also admitted that she knew that the young women had been forced into prostitution in the United States.

In April 2006, Josue Flores Carreto, Gerardo Flores Carreto, and co-defendant Daniel Perez Alonso were sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 50, 50, and 25 years, respectively, following their guilty pleas in April 2005. Carreto Valencia was extradited to the United States from Mexico in January 2007 to face the charges against her.

"Sex traffickers prey on the vulnerabilities of their victims to force them into lives of servitude and rob them of their human dignity," stated United States Attorney Benton J. Campbell. "We will hold accountable those persons who subject other human beings to conditions of servitude in order to line their own pockets."

Under the terms of her plea agreement, Carreto Valencia faces a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment, an estimated guideline sentence range of 135 to 168 months, and a fine of $250,000. The guilty plea proceedings were held before United States District Judge Frederic Block at the United States Courthouse, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The case was investigated by ICE Special Agents from the New York Office of Investigations, with assistance provided by ICE Special Agents from the New Jersey and Mexico City offices, the New York City Police Department, the U.S. Department of State, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and officials of the Mexican Prosecutor General of the Republic.

The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Monica E. Ryan and Special Litigation Counsel Hilary Axam from the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

It is estimated that 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. These victims are trafficked into the international sex trade and into forced labor situations throughout the world. Many of these victims are lured from their homes with the false promise of well-paying jobs and then forced or coerced into prostitution, domestic servitude, farm or factory labor or other types of forced labor ICE's Trafficking in Persons Strategy (ICE TIPS) to target criminal organizations and individuals engaged in human trafficking worldwide. ICE's latest initiative to target individuals and companies suspected of using people as modern day slaves, holding them against their will and forcing them into sexual servitude is taking the campaign directly to the American public and asking for their help in spotting these heinous crimes.

ICE has unveiled an outdoor public service announcement (PSA) campaign, "Hidden In Plain Sight", to draw the American public's attention to the plight of human trafficking victims in the United States. The campaign message explains that human trafficking includes sexual exploitation and being forced to work against one's will.

If anyone knows or suspects someone is being held against their will contact the ICE tip line anonymously at 866-DHS-2-ICE.