News and Press Releases


November 17, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, announced that three Mexican nationals, Israel Cortes-Morales, 31, Alberto Cortes-Castro, 30, and Ernesto Cortes-Castro, 26, were sentenced to 15 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Alan S. Gold in Miami for conspiring to force Mexican women to engage in prostitution in the United States. The defendants pleaded guilty to that conspiracy charge in August 2011.

According to court documents, 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 in the United States. 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 the ICE-HSI 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 was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marlene Rodriguez and Roy Altman, and DOJ Trial Attorney Benjamin Hawk.

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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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