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Press Release


For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Virgin Islands

St. Thomas, VI – United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced that Ramona Rivera Luna, 65, a native of the Dominican Republic, was sentenced in federal court today after previously pleading guilty to one count of transporting an individual in foreign commerce for the purpose of prostitution and three counts of bringing illegal aliens to the United States for financial gain. Chief District Court Judge Robert A. Molloy sentenced Rivera Luna to a term of 87 months imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release, restitution in the amount of $1,095,712.00 and $20,400.00 in a mandatory special assessment fee.

According to court documents, Rivera Luna arranged for illegal aliens living in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to be smuggled to St. Thomas to live and work as prostitutes at The Embers Guest House, an illegal house of prostitution that she owned and operated. Rivera Luna admitted to having lured some of these women into traveling to St. Thomas under the false pretense of providing them with legitimate employment as bartenders. Rivera Luna further admitted that she financially benefitted from this arrangement as the women were required to reimburse her for the cost of their transportation. The women were also required to pay Rivera Luna rent and a cut of the money they earned from performing commercial sex acts. In handing down the sentence, Chief Judge Molloy noted the mental anguish that Rivera Luna caused her victims to suffer.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Meredith Edwards prosecuted this case.

Updated January 24, 2023

Human Trafficking
Human Smuggling