Monday, September 27, 2010

Violent Pimp Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking, Witness Tampering, and Interstate Transportation of a Minor for Prostitution

Pierce County Man Used Threats and Violence to Force 17-Year-Old Into Prostitution

JUAN ALEXANDER VIANEZ, a/k/a Nauj, 26 years old, of Lakewood, Washington, and Las Vegas, Nevada, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay over $1.3 million in restitution for sex trafficking, interstate transportation of a minor in furtherance of prostitution, interstate transportation in furtherance of prostitution, and witness tampering. VIANEZ was convicted by a jury on September 23, 2009, following a six-day trial in front of U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan.

At sentencing, Judge Bryan concluded that the defendant engaged in “the slavery of others” and the evidence “takes the case outside of the heartland of the [sentencing] guidelines” in imposing a sentence that was nearly double the term of imprisonment suggested by the United States Sentencing Guidelines. On the witness tampering conviction, Judge Bryan sentenced the defendant to the maximum imprisonment term of 10 years, to run concurrent with the 20-year sentences imposed for the other crimes. Judge Bryan stressed the egregious nature of the crimes, stating, “this marked a multi-year, terribly abusive situation...[we are] not here on a murder charge by luck of the [victim’s] strength and medical intervention, we could easily be here on a murder case.” Along with the lengthy sentence, Judge Bryan imposed a five year term of supervised release which include conditions that VIANEZ register as a sex offender and have no contact with minors, and any witnesses in the case. “[Mr. VIANEZ] is a danger to be at large and extremely likely to reoffend these types of offenses and other similar offenses, and to return to the lifestyle that he adopted...”

According to records in the case and testimony at trial, VIANEZ met the victim in this case when she was just a week past her 17th birthday. VIANEZ convinced the girl to become sexually involved with him. He then pressured her into prostitution to earn money for him. With threats and beatings he kept her isolated in the world of prostitution forcing her to work in Portland, Las Vegas, and Arizona, and returning all money earned to him. As prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo, “On a nearly weekly basis over the course of four years, the defendant threatened (the victim) with harm, and assaulted her, including punching her in the face, the stomach and ribs. The beatings did not excuse (the victim) from prostituting; she just had to put on more make-up to cover up the bruises.” One of the most severe beatings occurred in 2007, over several days and at two locations in Pierce County. When the victim was taken to the hospital, law enforcement charged VIANEZ with assault. VIANEZ was able to bail out of jail, find the victim in Oregon and manipulated her to hide from police so that the assault charges were dropped. The victim was ultimately located and taken into custody on a federal material witness warrant in October 2008. VIANEZ was arrested at the same time and has been incarcerated ever since.

Based on the value of the victim’s labor and the amount of money VIANEZ made during the time he exploited her, VIANEZ was ordered to pay restitution to the victim of over $1.3 million dollars. VIANEZ isolated the victim from her friends and family, prohibited her from being employed in any legitimate capacity, and forced her to engage in prostitution to earn money for VIANEZ. He used these funds to support a wealthy lifestyle, which included luxury vehicles, condominium and high-end hotel rentals, and vacations in Hawaii and Nevada.

“The FBI is committed to supporting the Innocence Lost Task Force and those cases where the most innocent and vulnerable among us have been targeted and victimized. The task force, which was created for the State of Washington as the result of this case, remained persistent during this lengthy investigation to ensure neither the victim nor other children like her would succumb to VIANEZ’ wiles.” said Laura Laughlin, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Lakewood Police Department, Tacoma Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations Division.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Ye-Ting Woo and Matthew Thomas.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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