Eight Sentenced in Interstate Human Trafficking Conspiracy
PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Eight defendants, all of whom resided illegally in the United States, have been sentenced in an interstate human trafficking case. The sentences were announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The defendants and sentences are:
- Edegardo Osorno Rodriguez, 38, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, 60 months in prison;
- Mauro Gonzalez-Lira, 25, McComb, Mississippi, 60 months in prison;
- Jose Juan Ruiz Prudencio, 41, Montgomery, Alabama, 48 months in prison;
- Romon Tobon, 46, Starkville, Mississippi, 42 months in prison;
- Antonio Flores-Esparza, 32, Pensacola, Florida, 24 months in prison;
- Jose Alvaro Trujillo-Santiz, 46, Panama City Beach, Florida, 18 months in prison;
- Emerson Corvera, 21, Montgomery, Alabama, 9 months in prison; and
- Rosa Mirtha Cruz Vidal, 35, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, 8.5 months in prison.
Between February and May 2016, seven defendants pled guilty to engaging in a conspiracy during 2014 and 2015, to transport, harbor, and market undocumented female immigrants for prostitution in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Thereafter, the defendants wired the prostitution proceeds outside the United States.
In addition to conspiracy, the following defendants also pled guilty to:
- Enticing individuals to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution
(Rodriguez, Flores-Esparza, Gonzalez-Lira, and Prudencio);
- Transporting individuals in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution
(Rodriguez, Flores-Esparza, Prudencio, Tobon, and Corvera); and
- Illegal entry by a deported alien (Tobon).
In May 2016, Cruz Vidal pled guilty to fraud and misuse of a falsely made permanent resident alien card.
Upon completion of their sentences, each defendant will be turned over to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation. Cruz Vidal has already been deported from the United States. Lazaro Juarez-Juarez, 34, of Atlanta, Georgia, who was also indicted in this case, has not been apprehended.
United States Attorney Canova stated, “Combatting human trafficking is a priority of the Department of Justice and my office, and the trafficking of women for commercial sex is a significant part of the human trafficking problem that our country faces. In this particular case, dozens of women were brought into the United States illegally and exploited by the defendants to engage in prostitution in several states for the defendants’ profit. This office will continue to partner with our federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to investigate and vigorously prosecute the trafficking of vulnerable victims for sex.”
“Human trafficking is a violation of its victims’ civil rights, and infringes upon the protected liberties guaranteed to all Americans,” said Charles P. Spencer, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville Division. “This type of illegal activity demonstrates a very real risk to our local communities, and stopping it remains one of the highest criminal investigative priorities for the FBI.”
“Human trafficking is an abomination, and this criminal organization has devastated the lives of so many women,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “These sentencings are the result of the hard work of our special agents and show the importance HSI places on investigating human trafficking crimes.”
This case resulted from a 15-month investigation into human trafficking activities in the Northern District of Florida by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stephen M. Kunz. It is a follow-up prosecution to a previous kidnapping case prosecuted in federal court in Panama City.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.
For more information, contact:
Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer
(850) 216-3854, firstname.lastname@example.org