An MS-13 gang member who raped and prostituted teenage girls, forcing them to have sex with up to 10 customers a day, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered 24-year-old Rances Ulices Amaya to spend 50 years behind bars for recruiting teens from middle schools, high schools and homeless shelters in Northern Virginia into his sex-trafficking operation. A jury in Alexandria federal court convicted him of conspiracy and child sex-trafficking charges in February.
Amaya is the fourth MS-13 member recently convicted of sex trafficking in Northern Virginia; four men associated with the Crips gang have also pleaded guilty in sex-trafficking cases. Authorities have said such child prostitution rings are a growing threat in the D.C. region because the gangs are increasingly trafficking young girls, rather than drugs, to make money.
Amaya, who also went by the nicknames “Murder” and “Blue,” prostituted five girls between the ages of 14 and 17, according to prosecutors. He raped them himself and forced them to have sex with paying customers at hotels and houses and in cars throughout Northern Virginia and the District.
Amaya “plied young girls with drugs and alcohol, raped them, and required these same young girls to endure sex with multiple, strange men night after night,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Authorities and court documents say he frequently carried a machete, hit at least one of the victims, and told the girls he “owned them” and would hurt their loved ones if they didn’t follow his orders.
Amaya’s attorney said in sentencing papers that his client maintains a “steadfast denial” that he engaged in child sex trafficking.
“Without admitting that any conspiracy or prostitution occurred, Amaya affirmatively represents that he believed that any person with whom he had any form of sexual contact was an adult,” defense attorney Michael Arif wrote. Arif also said Amaya grew up in a dysfunctional environment and adopted MS-13 as a “substitute family.”
Amaya exploited young girls because customers preferred them and they were easier to manipulate, prosecutors said.
“Rances Amaya’s gang name was ‘Murder,’ and in a real sense he killed the hopes and dreams of teenage girls whom he systematically and sadistically victimized,” Neil MacBride, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement.