News and Press Releases


August 4, 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, announced today that two Mexican nationals, Israel Cortes-Morales, 31, and Alberto Cortes-Castro, 30, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Miami to charges of conspiring to commit commercial sex trafficking of Mexican women. Sentencing for these defendants has been scheduled for October 28, 2011. The case against a third defendant, Ernesto Cortes-Castro, 25, remains pending.

According to the information presented in court, from 1999 through December 2010, the defendants forced multiple Mexican women to engage in prostitution in the United States for the defendants’ financial benefit. With false promises of a better life, legitimate employment, and marriage, the defendants lured victims from their homes in Mexico to this country, knowing that they would actually force the women to be prostitutes here. The victims were compelled, through threats, psychological coercion, and other means, to work within a prostitution circuit that spanned the east coast of the United States, including Miami, Florida.

Earlier this year, Mexican authorities successfully prosecuted a fourth defendant charged in the conspiracy -- Jorge Velasquez, 24 -- for his role in this commercial sex trafficking ring. Velasquez was sentenced in Mexico to 18 years and 3 months in prison. Mexico prosecuted Velasquez along with three other Mexican traffickers.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative and rescue efforts of agents with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations who work tirelessly to combat this type of modern day slavery. Mr. Ferrer also commended the efforts of various non-governmental organizations that help trafficking victims once they are rescued. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marlene Rodriguez and Roy Altman and Benjamin Hawk, Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice.

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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 Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

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