WASHINGTON - A federal grand jury in San Antonio, Texas, late yesterday charged five individuals with sex trafficking of juvenile girls. Timothy Michael Gereb, Brent Andrew Stephens, Maria De Jesus Ochoa, Consuelo Pilar Ochoa, and Isabel Ochoa were charged with obtaining two minors to engage in commercial sex acts, and were further charged with using force, fraud and coercion to cause the two juveniles, as well as another victim, to engage in commercial sex acts.
The five defendants were charged with conspiracy to transport illegal aliens and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, and Gereb was additionally charged with brandishing a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison. An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Baumann of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas and trial attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case.
Human trafficking prosecutions are a top priority of the Justice Department. In the last six fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys Offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court. In 2006, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.