Sunday, July 20, 2008

North Carolina: Man Gets 14 Years for Human Trafficking

From the Charlotte Observer:

One of two illegal immigrants charged with smuggling a teenage girl into South Carolina and forcing her into prostitution was sentenced Friday to more than 14 years in prison.

Jesus Perez-Laguna was also ordered to pay $52,500 in restitution during a federal court hearing in Columbia, the U.S. Justice Department said. U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. also ordered that he be deported after his release and never be allowed to re-enter the United States.

Perez-Laguna and a co-defendant, Ciro Bustos-Rosales, 36, pleaded guilty in September, admitting that they transported the 14-year-old girl across the U.S.-Mexico border and into South Carolina, via North Carolina, to force her into prostitution.

In April, Bustos-Rosales was sentenced to nearly six years in prison and ordered to pay restitution. Authorities are still searching for a third defendant, Guadalupe Reyes-Rivera.

In June 2006, the defendants arranged for the girl to be smuggled into the country under the pretense of getting restaurant work. She was taken to Charlotte, N.C., several locations in South Carolina and eventually Columbia, where she was forced "to perform acts of prostitution and turn over the proceeds," according to a sworn statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent Craig Hannah.

Prosecutors said Perez-Laguna and Bustos-Rosales marketed their business by passing out business cards and hired drivers to transport women to meet with clients, according to court documents. Federal agents have said a 19-year-old girl and 31-year-old woman also were involved in the prostitution ring.

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