Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer for the Southern District of Florida announced today that Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa pleaded guilty in the Southern District of Florida to one count of conspiracy and one count of holding a person in involuntary servitude. Cadena-Sosa faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a fine of $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled to occur on Jan. 27, 2015, before United States District Judge Jose Martinez. According to the terms of the plea agreement, the parties will recommend the maximum sentence of 15 years and over $1.26 million in restitution to the victims.
Cadena-Sosa, a 45 year-old Mexican national, pleaded guilty to holding the victim, a young, undocumented Mexican national, in involuntary servitude from 1996 to 1997, using beatings, rapes, threats of harm toward the victim and her family and threats of arrest to compel her to engage in prostitution to pay off a smuggling debt. Cadena-Sosa also pleaded guilty to conspiring with other members of the Cadena organization to commit additional offenses in connection with the scheme.
Sixteen defendants were charged in a superseding indictment filed in 1998. Cadena-Sosa was arrested in Mexico and extradited to the United States in November 2013. Four other family members 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, who pleaded guilty 2002 and 2008, and were sentenced to 5 years and 15 years, respectively. Six other defendants have 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.
According to court records, the defendant and other members of the Cadena organization recruited young women and girls, some as young as fourteen, in Veracruz, Mexico, and lured them to the United States on false promises of legitimate jobs. The defendants then smuggled the victims into the United States, imposed heavy smuggling debts, and compelled them into prostitution for twelve hours a day, six days a week, using brutal assaults, rapes and threats to control the victims and punish those who attempted to escape.
“No human being should have to endure the atrocities these young women and girls suffered at the hands of the Cadena organization,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Moran. “These violations of the victims’ individual rights and freedom are intolerable in a nation founded on rights, liberty, and the rule of law. The Department of Justice will continue in its relentless efforts to bring human traffickers to justice and restore the rights and dignity of the courageous survivors of this crime.”
“Undoubtedly, sex trafficking is one the most serious crimes prosecuted by our Office and the Department of Justice,” said U.S. Attorney Ferrer. “The heinous acts committed against these young women and girls by the Cadena organization simply cannot be tolerated, and we will continue to identify, arrest and prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of the suffering of others. The victims here are survivors and today’s plea represents one more step towards closure in a case that has taken them down a long road to justice.”
“Rafael Alberto Cadena-Sosa is a brutal criminal who threatened and coerced young victims into prostitution to pay off smuggling debts,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge George L. Pira of the FBI’s Miami Office. “ He is now behind bars in large part due to the diligence and dedication of our many law enforcement partners who helped bring this case to justice.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Moran and U.S. Attorney Ferrer commended 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, 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. They also thanked the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for its assistance with the extradition. 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.