Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that EFRAIN GRANADOS-CORONA, a/k/a “Chavito,” a/k/a “Cepillo,” was sentenced today to 212 months in prison in connection with trafficking three victims. Five additional defendants in this case were previously sentenced to terms of imprisonment. JULIO SAINZ-FLORES, a/k/a “Rogelio,” was sentenced on January 10, 2020, to 135 months in prison; PEDRO ROJAS-ROMERO was sentenced on December 2, 2021, to 137 months in prison; ALAN ROMERO-GRANADOS, a/k/a “El Flaco,” was sentenced on February 24, 2022, to 84 months in prison; JUAN ROMERO-GRANADOS, a/k/a “Chegoya,” a/k/a “El Guero,” was sentenced on May 3, 2022, to 108 months in prison; and EMILIO ROJAS-ROMERO was sentenced on June 9, 2022, to 136 months in prison.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “These defendants used brute force, threats of violence, and false promises to lure dozens of minors and adult victims in Mexico and the United States, traffic them into commercial sex, and collect millions of dollars in illegal proceeds. The devastation inflicted on the defendants’ victims is beyond measure. These sentencings send a clear message: those who prey on women and children to sell them into sexual slavery will be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.”
According to the allegations in the Indictment to which each defendant pleaded guilty, public court filings, and statements made in court:
EFRAIN GRANADOS-CORONA, JULIO SAINZ-FLORES, JUAN ROMERO-GRANADOS, ALAN ROMERO-GRANADOS, PEDRO ROJAS-ROMERO, and EMILIO ROJAS-ROMERO, the defendants, were members of an international sex trafficking organization (the “STO”). Many of the members of the STO are related by blood, marriage, and community.
Between at least in or about 2000 and 2016, members of the STO (the “Traffickers”) used false promises, physical and sexual violence, threats, lies, and coercion to force and coerce adult and minor women (the “Victims”) to work in prostitution in both Mexico and the United States.
In most cases, a Trafficker enticed a Victim – frequently a minor – in Mexico. The Trafficker then used multiple means to isolate the Victim from her family. In some cases, the Trafficker used romantic promises to induce the Victim to leave her family and live with the Trafficker. In other cases, the Trafficker raped the Victim, making it difficult for her to return to her family due to the associated stigma of the rape. Once a Victim was separated from her family, the Trafficker frequently monitored her communications, kept her locked in an apartment, left her without food, and engaged in physical or sexual violence against the Victim.
Traffickers often told Victims that the Traffickers owed a significant debt and that the Victim needed to work in commercial sex to assist in repaying the debt. Traffickers typically began forcing the Victims to work in commercial sex in Mexico. Victims were often required to see at least 20 to 40 customers per day. Traffickers monitored the number of clients each Victim saw by surveilling the Victims, communicating with brothel workers, and by counting the number of condoms provided to each Victim. Traffickers typically required the Victims to turn over all of the commercial sex proceeds to the Traffickers.
After a Victim worked in commercial sex in Mexico for some time, Traffickers typically arranged for the Victim to be smuggled into the United States. Members of the STO assisted one another in making smuggling arrangements. In many cases, multiple Traffickers and multiple Victims were smuggled into the United States together. In other cases, one Trafficker remained in Mexico while arranging for a Victim to be smuggled together with another Trafficker and other Victims.
Once in the United States, the members of the STO generally maintained their Victims at one of several shared apartments in New York City. Victims living in the same apartment were frequently forbidden from communicating with one another. Once in the United States, Traffickers continued to use physical and sexual violence, threats, lies, and coercion to force the Victims to work in commercial sex.
In most cases, the Trafficker or another member of the STO provided Victims with contact information with which to find work engaging in commercial sex acts. The Victims typically worked weeklong shifts either in a brothel or in a “delivery service.” In a delivery service, the Victims were delivered to customers’ homes by “drivers.” These brothels and delivery services were located both within New York and in surrounding states, including, but not limited to, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Delaware.
Generally, each customer paid $30 to $35 for 15 minutes of sex with a Victim. Of that, half of the money typically went to the driver (in the case of a delivery service) or to the brothel. The other half went to the Victim, who was then typically forced to give all of those proceeds to the Trafficker. When a Trafficker was unavailable, a Victim would be forced to give the proceeds to another member of the STO.
The Traffickers then frequently sent, or had their Victims send, some of the commercial proceeds to Traffickers’ family members and associates in Mexico by wire transfer. Such transfers provided financial assistance to the Traffickers’ families and provided financial support to the Traffickers themselves if they returned to Mexico.
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EFRAIN GRANADOS-CORONA, 45, of Mexico, pled guilty to sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. In addition to the prison terms, EFRAIN GRANADOS-CORONA was ordered to pay $2,004,450 in restitution.
JULIO SAINZ-FLORES, 37, of Mexico, pled guilty to sex trafficking of a minor, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
JUAN ROMERO-GRANADOS, 33, ALAN ROMERO-GRANADOS, 28, PEDRO ROJAS-ROMERO, 40, and EMILIO ROJAS-ROMERO, 37, all of Mexico, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. In addition to the prison terms, JUAN ROMERO-GRANADOS was ordered to pay $147,600 in restitution.
The maximum and minimum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.
The prosecution is being handled by the Violent and Organized Crime Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacqueline C. Kelly and Elinor L. Tarlow are in charge of the prosecution.