Mexican Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking 16-Year-Old Girl
Tenancingo man groomed victim for prostitution in Mexico, smuggled her into United States
RICHMOND, Va. – Javier Flores Mendez, 24, of Tenancingo, Mexico, pleaded guilty today to sex trafficking a 16-year-old girl and transporting her into the United States for prostitution.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, made the announcement after the guilty plea was accepted by U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Novak.
Flores was indicted on April 1, 2014 by a federal grand jury on charges of transportation of a minor for illegal sexual activity and sex trafficking of a child. Flores faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison on the transportation charge and a 15-year mandatory minimum term on the sex trafficking charge. Both offenses carry a potential maximum penalty of life in prison. Flores will be sentenced on Nov. 5, 2014 by U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer.
As outlined in court records, the defendant’s hometown of Tenancingo is known inside and outside of Mexico for having a widely accepted culture of pimping and prostitution. Every year, residents of Tenancingo put on a festival known as “Carnaval,” which celebrates the pimp and prostitute lifestyle. Tenancingo’s pimps and their associates have for years been responsible for moving prostitutes to other towns and cities in Mexico, as well as locations in the United States. A primary destination for victims who are being trafficked from Tenancingo is Queens, New York.
According to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, in March 2013, Flores approached a then 15-year-old girl who was selling roasted corn at a food stand in Puebla, Mexico. After striking up a conversation with the girl, Flores bought her a cell phone and programmed his number in it. Over the next several weeks, Flores and the girl communicated using that telephone, and they later went on several dates. In May 2013, Flores persuaded the girl to come live with him in Tenancingo, which is approximately three hours away by car from Puebla. Flores took the girl on a shopping trip to buy her clothes, shoes, makeup, jewelry and undergarments. At first, Flores treated the victim well, though he always controlled her movements and activities and did not give her a key for the hotel room where they initially lived. After about a week, however, Flores began threatening that he would kill the girl if she did not do what he said or attempted to run away.
In July 2013, Flores planned a trip to illegally enter the United States and travel to New York. Flores admitted to forcing the victim to travel with him by threatening that he would kill her and her family if she did not go. Flores and the girl were apprehended on July 4 in McAllen, Texas, after wading across the Rio Grande River with the assistance of “coyotes,” who are individuals paid to help smuggle migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. Flores and the girl were returned to Mexico, and the girl went back to live with her family in Puebla. Flores and the victim had no contact for several months.
In September 2013, Flores re-established contact with the girl, starting a pattern of conversations in which he repeatedly apologized for his prior behavior and asked for forgiveness. After multiple conversations, the girl agreed to leave her home in Puebla and live with Flores in Tenancingo. Flores again started off treating the girl well, but after about a week, Flores controlled her movements and access to people, and repeated the same threats that he would kill her if she did not do what he said or attempted to leave.
In late October 2013, Flores told the girl that she would have to start working as a prostitute at various bars in and around Tenancingo and Puebla. Flores forced the victim to work as a prostitute every night for a week, during which time she serviced ten or more men a night and as many as a total of 100. Flores also told the girl that they would again cross the border into the United States and travel to Queens, New York, where she would also work as a prostitute.
In or around late October or early November 2013, Flores and the victim successfully crossed the Mexico-U.S. border and for several days stayed in various safe houses in the Houston, Texas area. On November 2, they departed Houston in a Ford Excursion with nine other illegal aliens traveling to various points in the northeast United States. In the early morning hours of November 4, the vehicle was stopped for speeding by a Henrico County police officer in Richmond. At that time, Flores and the minor were put into immigration detention and this investigation followed.
This case was investigated by ICE-HSI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian R. Hood and Heather L. Hart are prosecuting the case.
# # #