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Co-Leader Of International Sex Trafficking Organization Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Life In Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 30, 2014

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ, 34, of Queens, New York, was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to life in prison in connection with his co-leadership, along with his brother Isaias Flores-Mendez, of a long-running sex trafficking conspiracy that employed force, fraud, and coercion to make young women work as prostitutes against their will. FLORES-MENDEZ was also ordered to forfeit approximately $1.7 million, and to pay $84,000 in restitution to a victim of his crime. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Bonifacio Flores-Mendez waged a decade-long campaign of terrorizing women, coercing them into prostitution, assaulting them, even attempting to run a victim over in his car and threatening the health of her infant child. He has no doubt caused his victims grave physical and psychological harm. The long prison sentence he has received today cannot undo that harm, but it will ensure that Bonifacio Flores-Mendez does not prey on more women or children.”

In sentencing BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ, Judge Forrest said: “We have to refuse to be a people who will allow such conduct to go unpunished, and the punishment must be severe. On those mornings when the victims woke up – perhaps under a table, perhaps in a windowless room, perhaps in a basement – they may have wondered whether one day the nightmare would end and that somehow justice would be done. Today, in holding you responsible for your crimes, some justice is done.”

According to the Indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at various proceedings in this case, including today’s sentencing:

Since at least 2001, when he was first arrested for promoting prostitution, BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ, a Mexican national, has been engaged in the business of sexually exploiting vulnerable women for his own financial gain.

BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ played an active role in the trafficking of at least one young woman (“Victim-1”), who was forced to engage in prostitution against her will by Isaias Flores-Mendez. At the age of 17, Victim-1 was romanced by Isaias Flores-Mendez and lured to the U.S. with the promise of a better life for her and her baby. BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ and Isaias Flores-Mendez arranged for Victim-1 to travel to New York, where she was met by BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ. Once in New York, BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ made Victim-1 sleep on a floor with her child without any blankets. BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ later locked Victim-1 in a windowless basement and deprived her and her child of sufficient food. Victim-1 was then forced to work as a prostitute against her will. When Victim-1 attempted to resist, Isaias Flores-Mendez repeatedly beat and verbally abused her. After she escaped, BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ and his brother continued to torment Victim-1, on one occasion trying to run her over with their car.

BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ also caused at least one other woman (“Victim-A”) to work for him as a prostitute, and on at least one occasion, BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ beat Victim-A.

In addition to his role in the direct sex trafficking of women by force, fraud, and coercion, BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ, together with his brother Isaias Flores-Mendez, also owned and operated a sprawling network of brothels in and around New York City that sexually exploited at least five women per day, each of whom saw up to 20 customers per day. Many of the victims of this sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise were forced to engage in prostitution against their will under abhorrent conditions.

*                      *                      *

The Indictment filed on May 23, 2013 charged 17 defendants. Sixteen of those defendants, including BONIFACIO FLORES-MENDEZ, have pled guilty, and one has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement. The defendants who have pled to date have agreed to forfeit, in total, more than $1.7 million. The following defendants have pled guilty, and have been sentenced as described below:

  • Carlos Garcia-De La Rosa pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise and possession of child pornography on January 9, 2014, and was sentenced on May 29, 2014, to 48 months in prison.
  • Pedro Degante-Galeno pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on November 13, 2013, and was sentenced on May 16, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Isaias Flores-Mendez pled guilty to conspiring to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion on January 7, 2014, and was sentenced on May 14, 2014, to life in prison.
  • Sergio Degante-Ortiz pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on January 6, 2014, and was sentenced on May 8, 2014, to time served and one year of supervised release.
  • Valentin Jiamez-Dolores pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on December 10, 2013, and was sentenced on April 25, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Mario Pedro Martinez-Barrera pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on December 12, 2013, and was sentenced on April 25, 2014, to 33 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Javier Leon-Chavez pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on December 18, 2013, and was sentenced on April 11, 2014, to 48 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Alberto Jesus Martinez-Miranda pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on October 29, 2013, and was sentenced on April 9, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison and two years of supervised release.
  • Miguel Angel Che-Veliz pled guilty to obstructing justice on January 22, 2014, and was sentenced on April 4, 2014, to time served.
  • Isidro Degante-Galeno pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on December 3, 2013, and was sentenced on April 1, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Alejandro Degante-Galeno pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on October 24, 2013, and was sentenced on March 6, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Manuel Gomez-Batana pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on September 25, 2013, and was sentenced on February 20, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Margarito Degante pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on October 29, 2013, and was sentenced on February 14, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release.
  • Marcos Mendez Perez pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on October 10, 2013, and was sentenced on January 31, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
  • Francisco Mendez Ramirez pled guilty to conspiring to engage in a sex trafficking-prostitution enterprise on October 21, 2013, and was sentenced on January 31, 2014, to the statutory maximum term of 60 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations.

This prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Amanda Kramer and Rebecca Mermelstein are in charge of the prosecution.

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