Three Mexican Brothers Plead Guilty To International Sex Trafficking
Defendants Smuggled Victims As Young As 14 Years Old From Mexico To NYC, Forced Them Into Prostitution
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, Benito Lopez- Perez, Anastasio Romero-Perez and Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez, brothers and citizens of Mexico, pled guilty to sex trafficking charges. According to the 25-count indictment and other court filings, the defendants were charged with sex trafficking, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling and money laundering offenses, involving victims as young as 14 years old.
The pleas were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.
The defendants were extradited from Mexico in December 2012, as part of the Office’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has to date indicted 52 defendants in sex trafficking cases and rescued over 100 victims, including 17 minors. At the court proceeding today before United States District Judge Carol B. Amon, each defendant pled guilty to a sex trafficking charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a maximum sentence of life in prison. As part of their agreement with the government, two of the defendants, Benito Lopez-Perez and Anastasio Romero-Perez, stipulated that they would not advocate for a sentence less than 188 months in prison.
As alleged in affidavits submitted in connection with the extradition proceedings, Benito Lopez-Perez (“Lopez-Perez”), Jose Gabino Barrientos-Perez (“Barrientos-Perez”) and Anastasio Romero-Perez (“Romero Perez”), are brothers from Tenancingo in Tlaxcala, Mexico. Between January 2003 and August 2010, as part of a family-based organization, the defendants smuggled three young Mexican women, identified in the court documents as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, from Mexico to the United States, and then forced them to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere. The defendants recruited and enticed the victims when they were just 14 and 15 years old and living in Mexico. After forcing one victim into prostitution by forcibly raping her, and luring the remaining victims into intimate relationships through false promises of romance and marriage, the defendants forced the victims to work for the defendants as prostitutes, initially in Mexico. The defendants beat and sexually assaulted the victims to compel them to work and punish them for not earning enough money, and the victims were required to turn over all of their earnings to the defendants. The defendants also threatened violence against the victims’ family members to prevent the victims from running away.
In July 2005, Lopez-Perez, Barrientos-Perez and Romero-Perez began smuggling the victims into the United States illegally to work as prostitutes. The defendants housed the victims in New York City. Each day, the victims were driven to locations throughout New York City to engage in prostitution. The three defendants worked together, frequently relying on each other to watch over the victims when any of the brothers returned to Mexico.
After the victims arrived in the United States, the defendants directed them to send the money they earned from prostitution to the defendants’ family members in Mexico. At the defendants’ direction, the victims went to various wire transfer service companies in New York City on a regular basis and sent sums of money ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to the defendants’ family members in Mexico. The defendants also directed the victims to use fake names when sending the money.
“The defendants not only pretended to embody these young victims’ dreams of romance and security, but also used violence to recruit a victim, all for the purpose of selling the victims into a nightmare of sexual slavery. The trafficking of innocent women and girls for sex is one of the most heinous crimes that we prosecute. This case, and our Office’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program, again demonstrate our resolve to investigate and prosecute those who would profit from exploitation of others,” stated U.S. Attorney Lynch.
“Today’s guilty pleas bring an end to the horrors these traffickers committed against their innocent victims,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Hayes. “HSI will continue to devote all necessary resources, domestic and foreign, to vigorously target and prosecute members of sex trafficking organizations who prey on the innocence and trust of young women and children in order to enslave them for profit.”
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Elizabeth Geddes, Licha Nyiendo and Erik Paulsen.
JOSE GABINO BARRIENTO-PEREZ