Five Members of Mexican Sex Trafficking Organization Sentenced to Prison
Traffickers Forced Young Women and Girls from Mexico and Central America into Prostitution in the U.S. for Over a Decade
WASHINGTON – Five members of an international criminal organization known as the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization (the “Organization”) were sentenced last week in federal court in Brooklyn to prison terms of 15 to 25 years by United States District Court Judge Edward R. Korman. The amount to be paid in restitution will be announced at a later date. Three additional defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on January 15, 2019. The defendants previously pled guilty to racketeering, sex trafficking and other federal charges following their arrests in Mexico and the United States. Between December 2004 and November 2015, the Organization, based in Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, Mexico, smuggled numerous young women and girls from Mexico and Central America into the United States, and forced them to engage in prostitution for the Organization’s profit, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars that were then laundered back to Mexico.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, and Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Derek Benner (HSI), announced the sentences.
“These well-deserved sentences reflect the gravity of the human trafficking crimes these defendants committed,” stated Acting Attorney General Whitaker. “The defendants operated an extensive sex trafficking enterprise that preyed on vulnerable young women and girls, deceiving them with false promises, coercing their compliance, and compelling them into submission through beatings, threats, isolation, and intimidation. This prosecution is the result of strong partnerships among the Eastern District of New York, the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, the New York Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, and our Mexican law enforcement counterparts. The sentences imposed in this case demonstrate our unwavering commitment to working across international borders to dismantle transnational trafficking networks and seek justice on behalf of victims and survivors.”
“These sentencings are the latest chapter in this Office’s long-term commitment to eradicate human trafficking and all forms of modern-day slavery,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The crimes committed by the members of the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization were brutal and shocking, and I hope that the sentences give the victims in this case some sense of justice. We will not tolerate the exploitation of women and girls for profit or sexual servitude.”
“These individuals will now face the consequences of their callous criminal actions exploiting women and girls whom they forced into sex slavery for profit. The investigation and prosecution that led to today’s sentencings speak to the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico, in which both nations are committed to holding accountable those engaged in the ruthless act of human trafficking,” said Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Derek Benner. “Investigating human trafficking remains a priority for HSI, whose primary focus is to rescue victims and release them from the grip of their captors. HSI will continue leveraging all of its investigative capabilities to disrupt human trafficking syndicates no matter where in the world they operate.”
The defendants were sentenced to the following prison terms:
- Jovan Rendon-Reyes, aka Jovani, 32, of Mexico, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. According to court documents, the defendant forced a minor to perform countless commercial sex acts for a substantial period using violence, manipulation and fear. Among other abusive acts, he raped the victim, and he repeatedly and severely beat her when she did not earn enough money. He also contributed directly to the Organization’s victimization of other women and girls.
- Saul Rendon-Reyes, aka Satanico, 41, of Mexico, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. According to court documents, the defendant forced a victim to perform commercial sex acts for a substantial period, including shortly after she gave birth, using violence, manipulation and fear. Among other abusive acts, he severely and repeatedly beat the victim, and deprived her of food. He also contributed directly to the Organization’s victimization of other women and girls, on one occasion depriving a victim of food to force her to have sex with him.
- Felix Rojas, 48, of Mexico, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. According to court documents, the defendant forced two victims to perform countless commercial sex acts for substantial periods using violence, manipulation and fear. Among other abusive acts, he kidnapped the first victim and her child, bringing them to Tenancingo. He then left the child with other members of the Organization, and smuggled the victim into the United States. While in the United States, he threatened to harm the victim’s child to force her to prostitute. On one occasion, when he learned that the victim was pregnant, he severely beat her until he caused a miscarriage, terminating the pregnancy. With respect to the second victim, he withheld food for her and her newborn if she refused to prostitute, and he severely and repeatedly beat her. He also contributed directly to the victimization of other women and girls.
- Odilon Martinez-Rojas, aka Chino or Saul, 47, of Mexico, was sentenced to 293 months in prison. According to court documents, the defendant forced three victims to perform countless commercial sex acts for substantial periods, using violence, manipulation and fear. Among other abusive acts, he raped the first victim, and severely and repeatedly beat her, including with a bat, when she did not earn enough money. With respect to the second victim, he threated to force her friend, who was a virgin, to prostitute, and he beat her when she tried to protect her friend. With respect to the third victim, when he learned that she was pregnant, he forced her to take pills to induce a miscarriage, terminating the pregnancy, and then violently and brutally beat her, dragging her by the hair, throwing her down stairs and stomping on her face when she did not immediately return to prostituting. In addition, when he was arrested in 2013 as part of a separate case in the Northern District of Georgia, he and Severiano Martinez-Rojas obstructed the investigation by causing the victim to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement. He also contributed directly to the Organization’s victimization of other women and girls. Odilon Martinez-Rojas previously was sentenced to 262 months in prison in a separate Northern District of Georgia case. The sentence imposed last week will run concurrent with his prior sentence.
- Severiano Martinez-Rojas, 53, of Mexico, was sentenced to 293 months in prison. According to court documents, the defendant forced a victim to perform countless commercial sex acts for a substantial period using violence, manipulation and fear. Among other abusive acts, he severely and repeatedly beat her when she refused to prostitute or tried to leave. In addition, he operated a brothel out of a trailer in Alabama, where many victims of the Organization were forced to prostitute. He also contributed directly to the Organization’s victimization of other women and girls, raped one of the victims, and threatened another victim to prevent her from cooperating with law enforcement after Odilon
- Martinez-Rojas was charged in a separate case in the Northern District of Georgia. Severiano was likewise charged in the Northern District of Georgia, which case was transferred to the Eastern District of New York for entry of his guilty plea, and the cases were consolidated for last week’s sentencing proceeding.
The investigation, prosecution, bilateral enforcement action and extraditions of the defendants apprehended in Mexico were coordinated through the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative. Since 2009, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, bring human traffickers to justice and restore the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims. These efforts have resulted in successful prosecutions in both Mexico and the United States, including U.S. federal prosecutions of over 170 defendants in multiple cases in New York, Georgia, Florida and Texas, in addition to numerous Mexican federal and state prosecutions of associated sex traffickers. The convictions in this case are also the latest development in the Eastern District of New York’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has to date indicted more than 80 defendants, assisted more than 150 victims, including 45 minors, reunited 19 victims’ children with their mothers and secured restitution orders of over $4 million on behalf of trafficking victims.
The investigation of the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization was led by HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, with assistance from HSI Mexico City Attaché Office, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the State Department, Interpol and the New York City Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the FBI’s Atlanta Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. The government of Mexico, including Mexico’s Procuraduría General de la República (“PGR”) and the Mexican Federal Police, also played a prominent role in advancing the bilateral anti-trafficking enforcement efforts in this case. Non-governmental victim service providers and advocates also dedicated efforts to restore and improve the lives of survivors of trafficking and their families. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Taryn A. Merkl and Margaret Lee of the Eastern District of New York and Deputy Director for Litigation Benjamin J. Hawk of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.