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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

New York man pleads guilty to transporting a minor for sex

GREENBELT, Md. – Edgar Daniel Mazariegos-Cifuentes, 40, a Guatemalan citizen illegally residing in Monroe, N.Y., pleaded guilty today to transporting a minor to engage in sexual activity. The guilty plea follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Maryland State Police (MSP) and the Monroe (New York) Police Department.

According to the plea agreement, in November 2011, the 15-year-old daughter of close family friends of Mazariegos moved from Guatemala to Monroe, N.Y., to live with her mother and stepfather. Mazariegos frequently visited the girl's home and was treated as a member of the family. On several occasions, Mazariegos drove the girl and her family members to or from Boston to visit the girl's uncle. Between November 2011 and August 2012, Mazariegos and the girl communicated by telephone and computer. Mazariegos also posted messages on the girl's Facebook page professing his love for her.

On Aug. 13, the girl had an argument with her mother and called Mazariegos because she was upset. Early the next day, Mazariegos picked up the girl and drove her to Silver Spring, Md., and checked them into a hotel so that he could engage in sexual intercourse with the girl. On Aug. 15, Mazariegos rented a room in an apartment, telling the person from whom he rented the room that it was for him and his "lady." When Mazariegos and the girl moved in, he presented the girl as his girlfriend. On Aug. 25, HSI special agents and MSP Child Recovery Unit officers located Mazariegos and the victim in the apartment.

When the victim was interviewed, she reported that when Mazariegos initially picked her up, she thought he was taking her to her uncle's home in Boston. The victim stated that Mazariegos took her phone away when she said she wanted to call her uncle and told her that he was taking her to Silver Spring, Md., so they could start a new life together. The victim advised that Mazariegos forced her to have sex with him the first night they arrived at the hotel and had intercourse with her several more times during the 11 days they were in Maryland.

As part of his plea agreement, Mazariegos must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Mazariegos and the government have agreed that if the court accepts the plea agreement Mazariegos will be sentenced to 10 years in prison before U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. on Feb. 28, 2013 at 9:30 a.m.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.

The case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit www.justice.gov/usao/md/Human-Trafficking/index.html.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristi N. O'Malley.