The Department of Justice today announced a sentencing and guilty plea for two members of a family run sex trafficking organization based in southern Florida. Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Joes E. Martinez to serve 15 years in prison and Carmen Cadena pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Jose Martinez for participating in a brutal family run sex trafficking organization.
Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa
Cadena-Sosa, 46, a Mexican national, was sentenced to serve 15 years in prison for conspiring and holding a person in a condition of involuntary servitude. Judge Martinez also ordered Cadena-Sosa to pay $1,261,563 in restitution to sixteen different victims.
On Oct. 9, 2014, Cadena-Sosa pleaded guilty to conspiracy and to holding a person in a condition of involuntary servitude. As part of his plea, Cadena-Sosa admitted that he, along with other family members and associates, approached women and girls, some as young as fourteen years old, in Veracruz, Mexico, and lured them into coming to the United States using false promises of legitimate jobs. After illegally smuggling women and girls into the United States, Cadena-Sosa and other family members imposed a smuggling debt and used brutal physical force and violence, sexual assaults, and threats of death and bodily harm to the victims and their families to compel the victims to engage in prostitution 12 hours a day, six days a week and turn over the proceeds to the defendants to pay down the smuggling debts the defendants imposed. Cadena-Sosa and other family members would also search for victims who had run away from a brothel and subject them to beatings and rapes upon capture.
Cadena, 48, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for conspiring with other members of the Cadena organization to unlawfully encourage and bring undocumented victims into the U.S.; unlawfully transport victims within the U.S.; unlawfully harbor victims within the U.S.; unlawfully coerce and transport victims, including victims as young as 14-years-old, into the U.S. for purposes of illegal sexual activity; and unlawfully use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit made to the victims.
Cadena faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled to occur on May 18, 2015. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will jointly recommend the maximum sentence of five years in prison and $1,261,563 in restitution to 16 victims.
Sixteen defendants were charged in a superseding indictment filed in 1998. Mexican authorities arrested Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa and Carmen Cadena and extradited them to the United States in November 2013 and December 2014, respectively. Four other members of the Cadena sex trafficking organization have been convicted, including Cadena-Sosa’s uncle, Rogerio Cadena, who pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years; Cadena-Sosa’s brother, Abel Cadena-Sosa, who was convicted in Mexico and sentenced to 24 years, and two other brothers, Hugo and Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa—Carmen Cadena’s husband—, who pleaded guilty in 2002 and 2008, and were sentenced to five years and 15 years respectively. Six other defendants previously pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the scheme, and one was convicted in state court for a murder outside a Cadena-run brothel.
Since 2009, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security as well as law enforcement agencies in Mexico, have worked to develop high-impact prosecutions to dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, bring human traffickers to justice, restore the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims, and reunite victims with their children held under the trafficking networks’ control. These efforts have resulted in numerous successful prosecutions, including U.S. federal prosecutions of over 50 defendants in multiple cases in Georgia, New York, Florida, and Texas since 2009.
“No human being should have to endure the violence and brutality these young women and girls suffered at the hands of the Cadena organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division. “These violations of the victims’ individual rights and freedom are intolerable and the Department of Justice will continue in its commitment to bringing human traffickers to justice and restore the rights and dignity of the courageous survivors of this crime.”
“Rafael Cadena-Sosa and Carmen Cadena preyed on vulnerable girls and young women and lured them to the United States with the promise of a better life,” said U.S. Attorney Wilfredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida. “Instead, Cadena-Sosa and his family and associates robbed these victims of their freedom and dignity, brutally beat them and subjected them to modern-day slavery. The dismantling of the Cadena organization reaffirms our unwavering commitment to prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of to others. We will continue to work with our domestic and international law enforcement partners to bring justice to those who engage in this inhumane practice. This case is one example of bilateral progress to effectively dismantle human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border.”
“The long prison sentence imposed upon Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa is a testament to the cooperation and commitment of numerous law enforcement agencies both here and in Mexico to stop this appalling criminal activity,” said Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI Miami Office. “We will continue working with our partners to dismantle human trafficking networks such as this one that operate in the shadows and brutalize their victims.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Gupta and U.S. Attorney Ferrer praised the collaborative efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the investigation and prosecution, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, West Palm Beach Police Department, Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Pierce Police Department, Avon Park Police Department, Boynton Beach Police Department, and Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam McMichael and Trial Attorney Matthew Grady of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.