Thursday, October 29, 2009

Atlanta Man Pleads Guilty in Connection with Sex Trafficking Scheme and Mann Act Charges

/PRNewswire/ -- Miguel Rugerio, 28, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty today in federal district court in Atlanta to charges of conspiracy to illegally transport young women from Mexico into the United States, and to harbor them, all for purposes of prostitution, and to engage in the sex trafficking of these victims. Rugerio also pleaded guilty to the substantive offense of transporting victim "N.M." in interstate and foreign commerce for purposes of prostitution.

"Mr. Rugerio pleaded guilty to crimes that robbed the victims not only of their freedom, but also of their dignity," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We are committed to combating human trafficking and prosecuting those who sexually exploit vulnerable women for financial benefit."

Acting U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of today's plea, "Human traffickers trick, lie and coerce young women into this country with the promise that they will have their freedom, and work a legitimate job. Instead it is just the opposite: these young women are in essence held captive with almost no way out, and the so-called job they are forced to do demeans them. We will continue to find these traffickers and put them in federal prison, where there is no parole."

"This case is a perfect example of the outstanding cooperation between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and our sister law enforcement agencies. Because of positive interagency cooperation, human trafficking and smuggling criminal organizations are discovering how difficult it is for them to hide their illegal activities from authorities," said Kenneth Smith, Special Agent in Charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Atlanta. "We are dedicated to identifying and dismantling these types of illicit operations wherever and whenever we find them."

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, "As a direct result of this criminal investigation and recently passed human trafficking legislation in Mexico, Mexican law enforcement has, for the first time, been able to launch their own investigation in an effort to combat this crime problem. We would like to express our gratitude to the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia for not only their assistance in this matter in general but specifically in assisting the victims that were being exploited by Mr. Rugerio."

According to Yates, the plea agreement, the indictment and information presented in court: Rugerio admitted in his plea that from July 2006 to August 2008, he conspired with others to use force, fraud and coercion to cause approximately five victims to come to the Atlanta area from Mexico and to engage in prostitution for the financial benefit of the members of the alleged conspiracy. He further admitted to transporting a victim to states outside of Georgia, including Alabama and Florida, to engage her in prostitution. Rugerio used false promises of better lives and marriage to lure young, impoverished Mexican women to come to the United States, knowing that he would cause the victims to engage in prostitution upon their arrival. Rugerio required his victims to engage in commercial sex with many men per night, seven days a week. Rugerio was indicted on the charges on August 12, 2008.

Rugerio faces a sentence of 5 years in prison. Rugerio remains in custody pending his sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. before Senior United States District Judge Clarence Cooper.

This case is the result of a joint investigation conducted by ICE and the FBI.

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