United States Attorney Charges Two Men With Sex Trafficking
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced today that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Gary Delima, 26, and Sharif Cargo, 26, both of Brooklyn, New York, with Sex Trafficking by Force and Coercion, Coercion and Enticement to Engage in Prostitution, and Transportation for Prostitution. Delima was also charged with the Sex Trafficking of a Child.
Delima, Cargo, and others had been federally indicted on March 18, 2015, on charges related to the distribution of heroin and cocaine base in Vermont. Today, a federal grand jury in Burlington returned a Third Superseding Indictment, adding the new charges related to human trafficking. Specifically, Delima and Cargo are accused of recruiting, enticing, and maintaining two individuals referred to in the indictment as “Victim 1” and “Victim 2,” and using force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion to cause them to engage in commercial sex acts between September 2012 and September 2013. Delima and Cargo are further accused of inducing and enticing “Victim 1” to travel from Vermont to New York in February 2013 to engage in prostitution, and transporting “Victim 1” from Vermont to New York in February 2013 to engage in prostitution. Delima is also charged with transporting an individual referred to as “Victim 3,” a minor, to engage in prostitution in January 2015.
According to an affidavit in support of a search warrant application submitted on November 16, 2015, law enforcement responded to a South Burlington motel in July 2013, and encountered Sharif Cargo, Gary Delima, and two women. Inside the motel room, law enforcement discovered Cargo, Delima, and the women, as well as evidence of prostitution and narcotics activity. Law enforcement also discovered that at least one of the women had been advertised earlier that day on the website “Backpage.com” as an escort available in the South Burlington area. Additional records from Backpage.com revealed that Sharif Cargo’s email address was used to post similar advertisements on the website between August 2012 and August 2013.
According to the same affidavit, law enforcement again responded to a South Burlington motel in February 2015 and encountered two females who admitted to being engaged in prostitution. One of the females was a minor. The females identified Gary Delima as the man who transported them from New York to Vermont for the purposes of having the females engage in prostitution.
If convicted, Cargo and Delima face a mandatory minimum of 15 years of imprisonment, and up to a maximum of life imprisonment for Sex Trafficking by Force and Coercion. Delima faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years of imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment, for the Sex Trafficking of a Child. The actual sentence, however, would be determined by the Court with guidance from the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The United States Attorney emphasizes that the charges in the indictment are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty.
United States Attorney Eric S. Miller commended the investigative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the South Burlington Police Department; and the Burlington Police Department.
Miller also stated, “Earlier this month, my office released a public service announcement intended to raise awareness surrounding the dangerous intersection of drug and sex trafficking in Vermont and to put victims and potential victims in touch with the services they need. Today, we have filed charges against two men alleged to have trafficked both drugs and young women. We will win the fight against human trafficking through this targeted combination of education, treatment, and vigorous law enforcement.”
The United States is represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Abigail Averbach and Jonathan Ophardt. Sharif Cargo is represented by Thomas J. Sherrer, Esq. Gary Delima is represented by Brooks G. McArthur, Esq. and David J. Williams, Esq.