Friday, January 18, 2008

Three Get Max Sentences for Roles in Human Trafficking Ring


A federal judge in Trenton today sentenced three people to the maximum sentences allowed for their role in a human trafficking ring that smuggled young women from Honduras and forced them into indentured servitude working in Hudson County bars.

"I've been around criminal law a long time -- since 1974," U.S. Distirct Court Judge Joel A. Pisano said. "I don't know that I've seen a more brazen, outrageous and depraved course of conduct" as this case.

"The facts of this case are horrific," the judge added. "We have threats, physical abuse, psychological abuse, coercion, and we have death."

Pisano sentenced Noris Elvira Rosales-Martinez, 31, to six and a half years in prison, the maximum allowed under federal sentencing guidelines. Rosales-Martinez's older sister and fellow illegal immigrant Ana Luz Rosales-Martinez was also sentenced yesterday to the maxiumum 57 months behind bars for her role in the ring.

Noris Elvira's boyfriend, Jose Dimas Magana, 41, a legal immigrant from El Salvador, was sentenced to 51 months, also the maximum allowed under the guidelines.

The three had pleaded guilty to forced labor, conspiracy and harboring of illegal aliens. All three are expected to face deportation when they complete their sentences.

Today's hearing brought the total number of suspects sentenced in the case to five. Three more have entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing. And four more are awaiting trial in Honduras.

The Rosales-Martinez sisters admitted they helped oversee dozens of illegal Hondurans who were forced to work six days a week and live in cramped Hudson County apartments until they could repay smuggling fees as high as $20,000.

The immigrants earned $5 an hour, plus tips, by dancing and drinking with male patrons at bars in Union City and Guttenberg. One ring member said the girls were encouraged to prostitute themselves; another said they were beaten if they ignored the house rules.

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