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California Briefing / Los Angeles

Prison for 5 in sex trafficking ring

August 19, 2009|Raja Abdulrahim

Five family members involved in a sex trafficking ring that lured young Guatemalan women and girls to the Los Angeles area and forced them into prostitution have been sentenced to federal prison.

The five people -- four Guatemalan nationals and one Mexican national -- were found guilty in February of sex trafficking by force, importation of people for purposes of prostitution, conspiracy and coercion, Department of Justice officials said.

Gladys Vasquez Valenzuela, 38, was sentenced Monday to 40 years in prison; and Gabriel Mendez, 35, was sentenced to 35 years, officials said. Mirna Jeanneth Vasquez Valenzuela, 28; Maria de los Angeles Vicente, 30; and Maribel Rodriquez Vasquez, 29, were each sentenced to 30 years.

The defendants forced at least 10 girls and women into prostitution with beatings, threats of rape and threats that their families in Guatemala would be killed if they tried to escape.

"In this disturbing case, the defendants lured young, uneducated and impoverished women and girls to the United States, where they were forced to work as prostitutes in terrifying conditions," U.S. Atty. Thomas O'Brien said in a prepared statement.

-- Raja Abdulrahim

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