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Press Release

Mexican National Sentenced to 5 Years for Participating in a Brutal Family-Run Sex Trafficking Organization

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Department of Justice today announced that United States District Judge Jose E. Martinez of the Southern District of Florida sentenced defendant Carmen Cadena, 48, a Mexican national, to serve five years in prison for her role in a brutal family-run sex trafficking organization.  The defendant shall also be ordered to pay restitution and hearing is set on August 10, 2015 to determine the amount.

The defendant pleaded guilty on Jan. 26, 2015, for her role in furthering the criminal conspiracy to lure vulnerable, undocumented Mexican women and girls—some as young as 14 years old—into the United States on false promises of legitimate jobs.  Members of the Cadena organization would then use force and violence, sexual assaults and threats to harm to the victims and their families to compel the victims to engage in prostitution in South Florida, 12 hours a day, six days a week and turn over the proceeds to the defendants in order to pay smuggling debts the defendants imposed.  When victims ran away, members of the Cadena organization searched for them and subjected them to beatings and rapes upon capture.  

Sixteen defendants were charged in a superseding indictment filed in 1998.  Mexican authorities arrested Cadena and extradited her to the U.S. in December 2014.  Five other family members have been convicted, including Cadena’s husband, Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa, who pleaded guilty in 2008 and was sentenced to 15 years; Cadena’s uncle-in-law, Rogerio Cadena, who pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years; and three of Cadena’s brothers-in-law, Abel Cadena-Sosa, who was convicted in Mexico and sentenced to 24 years, and Hugo and Rafael Cadena-Sosa, who pleaded guilty in 2002 and 2014, and were sentenced to five years and 15 years respectively. 

Six other defendants previously pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the scheme, and one was convicted in state court for a murder outside a Cadena-run brothel. 

“Today’s sentence marks the culmination of our long fight for justice over the past 16 years on behalf of the young women and girls whose lives were torn apart by the unspeakable violations they endured at the hands of their traffickers,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “The relentlessness of our efforts is rivaled only by the courage the survivors demonstrated in coming forward and partnering with us for over a decade to see the perpetrators brought to justice.  We are humbled by their resilience and resolve, and we are unwavering in our commitment to combating modern-day slavery.”

“Since 1998, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked tirelessly with international, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to bring to justice sixteen defendants who preyed on vulnerable women and children through documented violence and horrific sexual abuse,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.  “Today’s sentencing of Defendant Carmen Cadena allowed those who were exploited to bear witness to justice.”

“The sentencing of Carmela Cadena concludes a significant investigation of human trafficking and civil rights violations that included the investigative efforts and collaboration of several federal, state and local law enforcement agencies,” said Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.  “This investigation brought to an end a brutal family-run sex trafficking organization and helped raise awareness about human trafficking and involuntary servitude in the form of forced prostitution.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Gupta and United States Attorney Ferrer praised the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies involved throughout the investigations and subsequent prosecutions over the years, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, Avon Park Police Department, Boynton Beach Police Department, and Lee County Sheriff’s Office.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam McMichael and Trial Attorney Matthew Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. 

Updated December 15, 2015

Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 15-633