WASHINGTON - Raul Cortes-Meza, 21, aka "Oscar", a Mexican national, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to sex trafficking of a minor from Mexico, Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King of the Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias for the Northern District of Georgia announced.
According to the information presented in court, Cortes-Meza harbored a 17-year-old girl in the United States after she was pursued romantically by Cortes-Meza’s alleged co-conspirator in Mexico, then smuggled into the United States and brought to the Norcross, Ga., area. After the victim’s arrival in Norcross, Cortes-Meza, knowing that the victim was under 18 years of age, drove her to numerous apartments in the Atlanta metropolitan area to have sex with paying clients. Cortes-Meza instructed the victim to enter the apartments and provide fifteen minutes of sexual services to each man who was present, and subsequently collected money from the men with whom the victim engaged in commercial sex.
"Human trafficking occurs in hidden corners across the country," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Few crimes are more reprehensible than profiting from the sexual exploitation of a minor. The Department is committed to enforcing laws that put human traffickers behind bars."
"Human trafficking violates basic human rights and will not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias. "Using girls under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex acts is a serious violation of federal law. The victimization of the young woman in this case was unfortunately made easier by her illegal status, unfamiliarity with U.S. laws, and fear of law enforcement instilled in her by the trafficker. Federal laws protect all victims of such heinous crimes, whether or not they are U.S. citizens. No victim should fear coming forward to report illegal activity."
The sex trafficking of a minor charge to which Cortes-Meza pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison . A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled by the court.
The prosecution of human trafficking offenses is a top priority of the Justice Department. In fiscal year 2008, the Section filed the largest number of federal criminal civil rights cases ever in a single year in the history of the Civil Rights Division., including a recod number of both sex trafficking and labor trafficking cases.
The case is being investigated by special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Karima Maloney and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Corey Steinberg and Susan Coppedge for the Northern District of Georgia.