Brooklyn, New York - Last week in federal district court, five members of a notorious international criminal organization, known as the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization, were sentenced to prison terms of 15 to 25 years by United States District Court Judge Edward R. Korman. The amount to be paid in restitution will be announced at a later date. Three other defendants are set to be sentenced on January 15.
The defendants previously pled guilty to racketeering, sex trafficking, and other federal charges following their arrests in Mexico and the United States, where they were residing illegally. For over a decade, the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization, based in Tenancingo, Tlaxcala, Mexico, smuggled numerous young women and girls from Mexico and Central America into the United States and forced them to engage in prostitution for the Organization’s profit, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in criminal proceeds that were then laundered back to Mexico. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division prosecuted this case.
“These well-deserved sentences reflect the gravity of the human trafficking crimes these defendants committed,” said Acting Attorney General Whitaker. “The defendants operated an extensive sex trafficking enterprise that preyed on vulnerable young women and girls, deceiving them with false promises, coercing their compliance, and compelling them into submission through beatings, threats, isolation, and intimidation. This prosecution is the result of strong partnerships among the Eastern District of New York, the Civil Right Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, the New York Office of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations, and our Mexican law enforcement counterparts. The sentences imposed in this case demonstrate our unwavering commitment to working across international borders to dismantle transnational trafficking networks and seek justice on behalf of victims and survivors.”
“These sentencings are the latest chapter in this Office’s long-term commitment to eradicate human trafficking and all forms of modern-day slavery,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The crimes committed by the members of the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization were brutal and shocking, and I hope that the sentences give the victims in this case some sense of justice. We will not tolerate the exploitation of women and girls for profit or sexual servitude.”
“These individuals will now face the consequences of their callous criminal actions exploiting women and girls whom they forced into sex slavery for profit. The investigation and prosecution that led to today’s sentencings speak to the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico, in which both nations are committed to holding accountable those engaged in the ruthless act of human trafficking,” said Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director Derek Benner. “Investigating human trafficking remains a priority for HSI, whose primary focus is to rescue victims and release them from the grip of their captors. HSI will continue leveraging all of its investigative capabilities to disrupt human trafficking syndicates no matter where in the world they operate.”
The defendants were sentenced to the following prison terms: Jovan Rendon-Reyes, aka Jovani, 32, of Mexico, was sentenced to 20 years in prison; Saul Rendon-Reyes, aka Satanico, 41, of Mexico, was sentenced to 15 years in prison; Felix Rojas, 48, of Mexico, was sentenced to 25 years in prison; Odilon Martinez-Rojas, aka Chino or Saul, 47, of Mexico, was sentenced to over 24 years in prison; and Severiano Martinez-Rojas, 53, of Mexico, was sentenced to over 24 years in prison. Severiano Martinez-Rojas was also sentenced in a related case in the Northern District of Georgia. Those proceedings were transferred to the Eastern District of New York for entry of the defendant’s guilty plea last year, and the cases were consolidated for last week’s sentencing. Defendants Jose Rendon-Garcia, aka Gusano, 35, of Mexico, Guillermina Rendon-Reyes, 48, of Mexico, and Francisco Rendon-Reyes, aka Pancho, 30, of Mexico, will be sentenced on Jan. 15.
According to documents filed in court, between December 2004 and November 2015, members of the Rendon-Reyes Organization, including the defendants, enriched themselves by forcing multiple young women and girls, including the 12 referenced in court documents, to perform countless commercial sex acts throughout the United States and Mexico. The Organization targeted vulnerable women and girls, some as young as 14, from impoverished areas of Mexico and Central America. Male members of the Organization typically used false promises of love and marriage to lure the victims into fraudulent romantic relationships. In some instances, they forcibly abducted the victims, and on one occasion, a victim’s child. Members of the Organization frequently arranged for others to smuggle the victims across the border and into the United States. Once in the United States, members of the Organization utilized different methods to force the victims to engage in prostitution, including severe and repeated beatings, sexual assaults, forced abortions, threats to the victims, their families and children, and psychological harm. Members of the Organization forced the victims to perform as many as 45 sex acts a night and took all of the prostitution proceeds, funneling the money back to Mexico.
The investigation, prosecution, bilateral enforcement action, and extraditions of the defendants apprehended in Mexico were coordinated through the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative. Since 2009, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative to more effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, bring human traffickers to justice, and restore the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims. These efforts have resulted in successful prosecutions in both Mexico and the United States, including U.S. federal prosecutions of over 170 defendants in multiple cases in New York, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, in addition to numerous Mexican federal and state prosecutions of associated sex traffickers. The convictions in this case are also the latest development in the Eastern District of New York’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has to date indicted more than 80 defendants, assisted more than 150 victims, including 45 minors, reunited 19 victims’ children with their mothers, and secured restitution orders of over $4 million on behalf of trafficking victims.
The investigation of the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization was led by HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, and the Department of Justice’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, with assistance from HSI Mexico City Attaché Office, the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the State Department, Interpol and the New York City Police Department. Assistance was also provided by the FBI’s Atlanta Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia. The government of Mexico, including Mexico’s Procuraduría General de la República and Policía Federal, also played a prominent role in advancing the bilateral anti-trafficking enforcement efforts in this case. Non-governmental victim service providers and advocates also dedicated efforts to restore and improve the lives of survivors of trafficking and their families.
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director Derek Benner made the announcement today.
The case against the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization was investigated by HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Taryn A. Merkl and Margaret Lee of the Eastern District of New York and Deputy Director for Litigation Benjamin J. Hawk of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.