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Three Memphis, Tennessee Men Sentenced for Role in Sex Trafficking Ring

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that three men from Memphis, Tenn., were sentenced yesterday for their roles in a Memphis sex trafficking ring. Raul Santillan-Leon, Fernando Cortes-Santillan and Cristobal Flores-Angeles all admitted to working at Memphis brothels, and Santillan-Leon and Cortes-Santillan admitted to working at brothels where an underage girl engaged in prostitution.

Santillan-Leon pleaded guilty on Jan. 11, 2007, to one count of child sex trafficking and was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment and 10 years supervised release. Cortes-Santillan pleaded guilty on Jan.10, 2007, to one count of child sex trafficking and received a sentence of 41 months imprisonment and 10 years supervised release. Flores-Angeles pleaded guilty on Jan. 4, 2007, to one count of enticing a person to cross state lines to engage in prostitution and one count of money laundering and was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and three years supervised release.

Two additional defendants, Juan Mendez and Cristina Andres Perfecto, both of Nashville, Tenn., have pleaded guilty to two counts of commercial sex trafficking related to their roles in the sex trafficking ring. Perfecto admitted that she recruited two Mexican girls on behalf of Juan Mendez to come to the United States under fraudulent pretenses, knowing that the girls would be coerced into engaging in commercial sex acts and knowing that the victims were younger than 18 years of age. Mendez admitted that he dispatched Perfecto to Mexico to recruit girls under the age of 18 for the purpose of prostitution. Mendez and Perfecto face a maximum sentence of life in prison for their crimes.

“The victims in this case were thrust into the brutal and demeaning world of sex trafficking, where they were fed lies, and turned into prostitutes,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement and prosecution of human trafficking offenses.”

“Human trafficking deprives women and children of their dignity and self-esteem,” said U.S. Attorney David Kustoff. “These matters will continue to be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee.”

Six other defendants in the same case pleaded guilty last year to crimes including enticing an individual to travel in interstate commerce to commit prostitution and failure to file a factual statement about an alien.

Human trafficking prosecutions such as this one are a top priority of the Department of Justice.  In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years.  In FY 2007, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case. The investigation was conducted by ICE and the FBI with assistance from the Memphis Police Department. Catholic Charities, the YWCA, World Relief, and the Salvation Army assisted the victims and witnesses in this matter.