MAY 08, 2008
Illustrating that human smuggling rings are not limited to Border States, a Mexican man has been convicted for operating a prostitution ring—consisting of illegal immigrant girls—in an upscale south Florida county.
The lucrative business catered to local Hispanic farm and construction workers, many in the country illegally. The girls were smuggled in from Mexico with promises of a better life and, once in the U.S., were forced to pay off their smuggling debt as sex slaves in Palm Beach County.
Brothels were set up in adjacent south Florida cities—Fort Pierce, Okeechobee, Lake Worth and Boynton Beach, among them—and the prostitution ring netted up to $10,000 a day from its mostly Hispanic customers. Federal authorities first began investigating the operation more than a decade ago when two teenage Mexican girls escaped and alerted officials at the Mexican Consulate in South Miami.
A federal grand jury eventually indicted most members of the Mexican family that ran the operation but the ringleader (Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa) fled to his native Veracruz Mexico. He was recently extradited and faces 15 years in prison for federal civil rights violations and placing girls in a condition of involuntary servitude. Three other defendants in this case are still fugitives and believed to be evading U.S. justice in Mexico.
These kinds of smuggling operations are common in U.S. states located along the southern border but this case proves that the crisis is spreading throughout the country. Federal authorities routinely bust crime-infested immigrant stash houses in Arizona, Texas and California but rarely in other parts of the country.
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