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Man Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking and Alien Smuggling Charges in Florida

WASHINGTON - Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa pleaded guilty today to federal civil rights violations for conspiring to smuggle Mexican women and girls into the United States and to place them in a condition of involuntary servitude, announced Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Cadena-Sosa pleaded guilty to two counts of a superseding indictment charging his with conspiracy to hold persons in a condition of involuntary servitude, and conspiracy to recruit, harbor and transport known illegal aliens for purposes of prostitution and to extort collections of extended credit to the aliens. Cadena-Sosa faces a maximum total sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. The court announced that sentencing will occur on Aug. 20, 2008.

Cadena-Sosa, a 43 year-old Mexican national, conspired with family members and others to smuggle female illegal aliens from Mexico to the United States, for the purpose of holding the women and girls in a condition of servitude in brothels owned or operated by the conspirators. By means of intimidation, violence, and threats of physical harm, the conspirators forced the women and girls to work in the conspirators’ brothels until their smuggling debts had been paid.

In 1998, 16 defendants were charged by superseding indictment in this matter. Cadena-Sosa remained a fugitive in this matter until extradited from Mexico to the United States in November 2007. Nine defendants, including Cadena-Sosa, have now been found guilty in U.S. federal court. One defendant was convicted in Florida state court on charges arising from this criminal operation. Another defendant was convicted on related charges in Mexico. A third defendant died while a fugitive. Finally, three defendants remain as fugitives.

“The defendant conspired to entice women and children to the United States with false promises of a better life only to hold them in a condition of involuntary servitude in brothels located in Florida and South Carolina,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Grace Chung Becker. “He evaded justice for years, but the Department of Justice did not rest, and with the cooperation of the Mexican government, he has now been brought to justice.”

“Individuals who traffick in women and children peddle in human misery,” said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta. “Despite the defendant’s efforts to allow the passage of time to diminish his crimes, we remain committed to make every effort to see that these criminals are brought to justice.”

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.

In announcing the plea, Acting Assistant Attorney General Becker, and U.S. Attorney Acosta commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake Worth Police Department, the West Palm Beach Police Department, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Pierce Police Department, the Avon Park Police Department, the Boynton Beach Police Department, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office for their work in this cooperative investigation and prosecution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Millien and Civil Rights Division attorney Jim Felte are prosecuting this case for the government.