(Reuters) – Two men who pleaded guilty to trafficking an underage girl as part of a prostitution ring that operated in the Washington, D.C., area in 2018 and 2019 were sentenced on Tuesday to federal prison.
Elvis Pichardo Hernandez was sentenced to 13 years behind bars. Jose David Reyes-Gonzalez was sentenced to 14 years. Both men entered their guilty pleas in September of last year.
“The damage inflicted upon children through this form of sexual exploitation is immeasurable. The victim-survivors are subject to multiple forms of mental, physical, and emotional trauma, the scars of which never fully fade,” Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a written statement.
“The minor victim in this case was particularly vulnerable, and her traffickers used fear, coercion, and control to abuse and exploit her entire being for profit,” Terwilliger said.
Prosecutors say the sex-trafficking ring housed the minor girl at multiple hotels in Alexandria and Fairfax, Virginia, from April 2018 to January 2019, advertising her on such websites as Bedpage.com, CityXGuide.com and Backpage.com.
The male defendants also sexually abused her, according to prosecutors.
In January 2019, another member of the ring, Fatima Ventura-Perez, arranged for an adult victim to fly from Miami to Reagan National Airport outside Washington, and be sent to work as a prostitute in a “brothel apartment” in Laurel, Maryland, prosecutors say.
Both victims were found at the apartment on Jan. 14, 2019.
Ventura-Perez pleaded guilty in September to a federal charge of coercion and enticement and was sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison. Three other defendants were previously sentenced in connection to the ring.
“The actions of these defendants are quite frankly reprehensible as they’ve purposely preyed upon our most vulnerable and impressionable victims for far too long,” said Edwin Roessler Jr., Fairfax County police chief.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)