LEXINGTON, KY - The first individual convicted federally in Kentucky of sex trafficking charges received a 180 month prison sentence.
U.S. District Judge Karl S. Forester sentenced Marco Antonio Flores-Benitez, 38, yesterday for conspiracy to engage sex trafficking. Under federal law, sex trafficking is defined as commercial sex acts induced by force, fraud, or coercion.
Judge Forester sentenced Flores-Benitez's co-defendant today, Roxana Serna-Olea, 36, to 46 months in prison for persuading someone to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution.
According to court documents, starting in December 2006, Flores-Benitez and Serna-Olea operated a prostitution delivery service for customers in Lexington and Louisville areas. They also operated a brothel at Cross Keys drive in Lexington that was managed by another co-defendant.
As part of the conspiracy, some defendants recruited Spanish-speaking women from North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Maryland to travel to Kentucky to engage in prostitution under the direction of Flores-Benitez.
Clients paid the defendants $30 for 15 minutes of sexual activity and the women were expected by the defendants to engage in sex acts with multiple customers per day. Some of the defendants drove and delivered the prostitutes to customers in Fayette, Woodford, Oldham and Jefferson Counties in Kentucky.
In one instance, Serna-Olea recruited a woman for prostitution by convincing her to travel to Kentucky for reasons other than prostitution. However, once the woman arrived in Lexington, Serna-Olea persuaded the woman to engage in prostitution.
Serna-Olea and Flores-Benitez pleaded guilty to their respective charges in July. Both will have to serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences.
Adrian Lezama-Ruiz, 26, and Roberto Salinas-Rivera, 35, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to persuade someone to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution. Both also entered guilty pleas to an aiding and abetting charge. Both defendants are still awaiting sentence.
Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Ronnie J. Bastin, Chief, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Police, Perrye Turner, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation and John R. Korkin, Supervisory Deportation Officer, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Detention & Removal Operations and Ray Larson, Fayette Commonwealth Attorney jointly made the announcement today.
The investigation was conducted by Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Division of Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration & Customs Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorneys Hydee R. Hawkins and David A. Marye represented the government in this case.