Policy: Immigration

Illegal immigrants convicted of sex-trafficking charges in Maryland

Local,Maryland,Crime,Naomi Jagoda,Immigration

Two illegal immigrants were convicted earlier this week for their roles in a prostitution ring involving Maryland brothels, officials said.

German de Jesus Ventura, 35, and Kevin Garcia Fuertes, 25, ran brothels in Annapolis and Easton, Md. from 2008 to 2010, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Ventura was the ringleader of the prostitution scheme, and he hired Fuertes to advertise and manage the brothels, authorities said.

The defendants recruited and employed prostitutes, and Ventura arranged for vehicles to transport prostitutes within Maryland and from Maryland to other states. The men then shared profits from the business, officials said.

Ventura threatened and intimidated others in order to further the prostitution business. He threatened a prostitute so that she would continue to work for him. He also threatened to kill a family that provided temporary housing to a prostitute, poured gasoline on the family's apartment door and smashed windows in the family's vehicle, officials said.

Ventura also threatened pimps who competed with his business, officials said. He sent multimedia messages to a competitor that depicted images of a semi-automatic pistol, the pistol's magazine and an angel of death statue. He also arranged for a rival pimp to be assaulted.

And, according to police, Ventura reported rival pimp's criminal activities to police in order to help his business and distract authorities from his activities. He claimed that he was responsible for a competitor pimp's murder in an effort to intimidate both his rivals and his own employees, officials said.

A federal jury in Baltimore found Ventura and Fuertes guilty of conspiracy and sex-trafficking charges, and Ventura was also convicted of other prostitution-related charges. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced on July 24 and could receive sentences of life in prison.

Ventura is a citizen of El Salvador who resided in Capitol Heights. Fuertes is a citizen of Honduras and was living in Annapolis and Richmond.

Three other illegal immigrants have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the prostitution ring and have since been deported from the United States. These defendants advertised the brothels, scheduled appointments for prostitutes and collected money, officials said.

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