With awareness of human trafficking on the rise, people accused of transporting others -- especially juveniles -- are facing tough penalties in increasing numbers. The prison time for prostitution and sex trafficking can range from 10 years to life, and even those who receive shorter sentences may be required to register as sex offenders after they're released.
A 21-year-old man recently pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges in connection with a prostitution ring run by the MS-13 street gang. Prosecutors said the gang member was charged in September and admitted to participating in the exploitation of a teenage girl who was being prostituted by the gang beginning in the fall of 2009 until spring of 2010. His primary job, according to court documents, was to drive the girl around Maryland and neighboring states to prostitution appointments set up by the gang, which compelled the girl to comply by giving her alcohol and drugs.
Most of the appointments took place in an apartment in Maryland that was controlled by MS-13 gang members, though the defendant also said he took the girl to hotels in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The case was investigated by the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force, which is made up of law enforcement authorities at the local, state and federal levels. FBI agents in Washington, D.C., also played a role in the investigation.
If you are accused of participating in sex trafficking or prostitution, you can expect to face extremely aggressive prosecution, even if your role in such an operation is a minor one. The man in this case may have only been driving the girl to and from appointments, but investigators and prosecutors generally don't differentiate between the various roles of people involved in sex trafficking operations. If you participated in sex trafficking against your will, it's important that you work with an attorney who can accurately present your case in criminal court to avoid the most serious charges and punishment.
Source: Alexandria News, "MS-13 Gang Member Pleads Guilty To Child Sex Trafficking," Dec. 3, 2012