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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 23, 2019

Muskegon Child Sex Trafficker Sentenced To 40 Years In Federal Prison

         GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN - Richardo Leodoro Urbina, 58, of Muskegon, Michigan was sentenced to serve 480 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for sex trafficking three minors; attempting to sex traffic three more minors; conspiring to sex traffic minors; sex trafficking an adult by force, fraud, or coercion; distributing cocaine and cocaine base; and conspiring to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff also imposed a lifetime period of supervised release and $40,000 in fines.

          In sentencing Urbina, Judge Neff stated that it is "difficult to find offenses more serious than these" and that this case "is among the most serious the Court has ever seen." Judge Neff also noted the "depravity of the methods Urbina used to recruit young girls and control them to make money for himself."

          On May 14, 2019, Urbina was found guilty after a six-day jury trial. Over the course of trial, the jury heard from 10 girls about Urbina’s sexual exploitation of them while they were minors. The jury learned that in May of 2015, Urbina—then 54—recruited and pimped high-school aged girls. He located his victims by befriending high schoolers, who identified the most vulnerable girls they knew. Urbina targeted runaways who needed money and a place to stay. He gave them alcohol and cocaine to make it more likely they would agree to "dance" or give "massages" to men Urbina arranged for them to meet. The girls only learned the men expected them to have sex after they were alone with the johns. Urbina kept half the money the johns paid.

          The jury also heard from one woman who Urbina sex trafficked after learning she needed a place to stay. He originally offered to help her by letting her live with him. The first night she stayed with Urbina, he forced her to have sex with a john for money. She lived with Urbina for about six months. He kept all of the money johns paid her and gave her narcotics instead. When she tried to leave, Urbina said she owed him $1,000 and had to pay it in order to be released. She had no money to pay and eventually escaped with the help of a john.

          Urbina has an extensive criminal history, including three felony assault convictions, three larceny convictions, two felony drug convictions, a witness intimidation conviction, and a perjury conviction.

          In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Birge stated, "Urbina targeted the most vulnerable victims he could find—girls, many one-third his age, who thought they had nowhere else to turn. The 40-year sentence he received today should serve as a warning to others looking to engage in sex trafficking of minors in West Michigan."

          "The perpetrator in this case used physical violence, fear, and coercion to further the sexual exploitation of his victims," stated Steven M. D’Antuono, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. "Our investigation in this case through the West Michigan Based Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, in conjunction with our local and state partners demonstrates that combating sex trafficking and violence in our communities is of the highest priority for the FBI."

          The West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX) investigated Urbina. The investigation included members of the FBI, Michigan State Police, Kent County Sheriff’s Office, and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The case was tried by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexis M. Sanford and Davin M. Reust.

          This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor's offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation, and to teach children how to protect themselves. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit the following web site: www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Individuals with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

END

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated September 24, 2019