News and Press Releases

TWO MARTIN COUNTY WOMEN PLEAD GUILTY TO INTERSTATE PROSTITUTION CHARGES

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 3, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, announce that defendants Felicita Almestica, 51, and Jackeline Encarnacion, 33, both formerly of Martin County, pled guilty today for their participation in an interstate prostitution scheme.

More specifically, Almestica pled guilty to interstate transportation of persons for purposes of prostitution, in violation of the Mann Act, Title 18, United States Code, Section 2421. Encarnacion pled guilty to interstate travel in aid of prostitution, in violation of the Travel Act, Title 18, United States Code, Section 1952(a)(3). Sentencing for both defendants has been scheduled for December 5, 2011, at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez at the United States Courthouse in Fort Pierce. At sentencing, Almestica faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison; Encarnacion faces a maximum statutory sentence of 5 years in prison.

Defendants Almestica and Encarnacion were indicted on May 5, 2011 and pled guilty on August 3, 2011, before Magistrate Judge Frank J. Lynch, Jr., in Fort Pierce. This investigation began in March 2011, after law enforcement received reports of a possible prostitution ring in Indiantown and western Martin County. During the investigation, a confidential source learned that Almestica was offering women for investors to prostitute. Thereafter, an ICE undercover agent met with Almestica and agreed to pay her $3500 for the use of a girl who would travel to Seattle, Washington, to work in a brothel for one week. Almestica selected Encarnacion for this assignment.

On April 12, 2011, Almestica drove Encarnacion to the Palm Beach International Airport to travel to Seattle, Washington. Encarnacion, by reason of plane transfer connections and cancelled flights, took two days to arrive in Washington. Undercover agents, posing as the managers of the local brothel, met Encarnacion at the airport in Seattle and drove her to a local hotel. On the way, Encarnacion discussed with the purported managers the acts of prostitution she would perform, her prices, and the arrangements for payment. The following day, the undercover agents told Encarnacion that they needed to close the brothel because of heightened police attention on the brothel. Encarnacion then flew back to Florida, where both defendants were then arrested.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, the Seattle Police Department, the State of Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, and Customs and Border Protection, Office of Air and Marine for their work on this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Cooperstein.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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