Brooklyn High School Paraprofessional Sentenced to 15 Years for Production of Child Pornography and Sextortion Scheme
Earlier this week and today, in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, three brothers pled guilty to sex trafficking charges. The defendants, who are Mexican nationals, transported Mexican females from Mexico to the United States illegally, forcing them to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere. At the time of sentencing, defendants Jorge Estrada-Tepal and Ricardo Estrada-Tepal, who pled guilty to sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking involving force, fraud and coercion, face a mandatory term of imprisonment of 15 years, with a maximum possible sentence of up to life in prison. Defendant Victor Leonel Estrada-Tepal, who pled guilty to sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor, faces a mandatory term of imprisonment of ten years, with a maximum possible sentence of up to life in prison. The defendants were arrested in January 2014. These guilty pleas are the latest in the Office’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has to date indicted over 55 defendants in sex trafficking cases and rescued over 115 victims, including over 25 minors.
The guilty 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 are classic predators: they targeted women and a young girl in Mexico, and pushed them into a life of sexual slavery in Mexico and the United States. As our trafficking cases have repeatedly shown, we will not relent against those who choose to subject victims to modern-day slavery in an effort to line their own pockets,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch thanked the Mexican authorities and other entities that assisted with the investigation and successful prosecution of this case.
“These men preyed on innocent women, luring them into the United States under false pretenses and then cruelly enslaving them to satisfy their own greed in a ruthless prostitution scheme,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Hayes. “Prosecuting human traffickers and rescuing human trafficking victims is a priority of this office and the Department of Homeland Security. These guilty pleas highlight that commitment and serve as a warning to other predators that law enforcement at all levels is determined to dismantle these heartless human trafficking organizations.”
As set forth in court documents, and discussed during the guilty plea proceedings, the sex trafficking involved at least four victims, and the defendants used various methods to force these women to work in prostitution, ranging from threats of violence, assault and psychological coercion. One minor victim, identified at the guilty plea proceedings as Jane Doe 4, was under the age of 18 when she was trafficked to the United States. During the guilty plea held today, defendant Jorge Estrada-Tepal admitted that, starting in 2007, he and his brothers entered into a conspiracy to transport women from Mexico to Queens to engage in prostitution, and that threats of force were used against the victims. Likewise, yesterday, Ricardo Estrada-Tepal admitted that he and his brothers brought women from Mexico to the United States, where they were forced to work in prostitution, and that he and his brothers did not tell the women the “real truth about why they were coming to the United States.” On Tuesday, defendant Victor Leonel Estrada-Tepal admitted that he agreed with his brothers to force women to work in prostitution, including his wife, Jane Doe 4, who was 17 years old at the time, who he brought from Mexico to Queens to have her engage in prostitution.
Since 2009, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR), the Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSP), Procuraduría Social de Atención a las Víctimas de Delitos (PROVICTIMA), and non-governmental partners in the United States and Mexico in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative. Through this Initiative, the United States and Mexico have worked together to bring high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, prosecute human traffickers, rescue human trafficking victims, and reunite victims with their families. Other significant bilateral cases have been prosecuted in Atlanta, Georgia, and Miami, Florida.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Taryn A. Merkl and Melody Wells.
VICTOR LEONEL ESTRADA-TEPAL
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. CR-14-105 (MKB)