Fights Human Trafficking and Human Smuggling
Human trafficking and human smuggling represent significant risks
security. Would-be terrorists and criminals can often access
the same routes and utilize the same methods being used by
human smugglers. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s
Human Smuggling and Trafficking Unit works to identify criminals
and organizations involved in these illicit activities.
is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or
of a person for labor or services, through the use of force,
fraud or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary
servitude, peonage, debt bondage or slavery. Sex trafficking
occurs when a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud
or coercion, or when the person induced to perform such acts
has not attained 18 years of age.
is the importation of people into a country via the deliberate
evasion of immigration laws. This offense includes bringing
illegal aliens into a country, as well as the unlawful transportation
and harboring of aliens already in a country illegally.
situations may involve murder, rape and assault. The perpetration
of violent crime in itself does not constitute human trafficking,
because its elements remain fraud or coercion for commercial
sex or forced labor.
In the fight
against human smuggling and trafficking, ICE has developed
highly successful initiatives that focus on attacking the infrastructure
that supports smuggling organizations as well as the assets
that are derived from these criminal activities. This might
include seizing currency, property, weapons and vehicles.
One of the
new tools that helps ICE fight human smuggling and trafficking
is the issuance of Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA)
notices to property owners whose properties have been identified
as being used to facilitate smuggling or harboring aliens.
This is an important tool because many employers turn a blind
eye to the facilitation of criminal activity on their properties.
ICE is committed
to preventing the smuggling and trafficking of persons through
initiatives, tools and resources that effectively impact organizations
engaged in these practices.
of Alien Smuggling Organization Plead Guilty
(ICE) — Five members of the Ortiz family alien smuggling organization,
based in Bryan/College Station, Texas,
guilty here Thursday to federal alien smuggling charges. U.S.
Attorney Don DeGabrielle, Southern District of Texas, announced
the pleas; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) initiated
the investigation into the organization in January 2005.
The ICE investigation ultimately revealed a large-scale alien
smuggling operation that since 1999 has transported hundreds
of illegal aliens from the Mexican border to the Bryan, Texas,
Defendants Porfirio Ortiz, 37, Calixtro Ortiz, 52, Bernardino
Ortiz, 49, and Sandra Ortiz, 32, all of Bryan; and Christopher
Gene Torres, 24, of Kingsland, Texas, all pleaded guilty Aug.
21 to count one of the Indictment, charging them with conspiracy
to transport illegal aliens for commercial advantage or private
financial gain. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 20.
On Jan. 17, 2005, a black 1990 Ford F-250 hauling a horse trailer
driven by Tyler Ross Severn, 28, of Bryan, arrived at the highway
16 Border Patrol checkpoint south of Hebbronville, Texas. The
inspecting border patrol agent noticed a suspicious arrangement
of hay blocking his view of the front area of the trailer. The
agent peered inside and observed four adults and an infant, who
were later identified as illegal aliens from Mexico.
The driver told agents that Porfirio Ortiz hired him to transport
illegal aliens from Rio Grande City to Hebbronville, Texas. Severn
drove the truck and trailer to Rio Grande City and loaded the
five aliens into the trailer. The aliens were to pay Porfirio
Ortiz $2,500 each, of which Severn was to receive $300 per person.
Severn was to deliver the aliens to Manuel Antonio Valles, 36,
also of Bryan, in Hebbronville. After locating and arresting
Valles, agents searched his vehicle and found a notarized letter,
handwritten by Porfirio Ortiz. The letter requested the return
of his horse trailer that had been seized in a previous alien
smuggling apprehension in December 2004 in Laredo, Texas.
Severn explained that by the time he was apprehended in 2005,
he had made numerous trips transporting illegal aliens for the
Ortiz family. Calixtro Ortiz served as a guide for the aliens
and transferred the aliens to Severn at a house in Rio Grande
City. Severn then transported the aliens to Bryan, Texas, where
Porfirio or Bernardino Ortiz paid him. Severn took agents to
the house in Rio Grande City where they spoke with the owner,
Maria Bazan, 35, of Bryan, and Calixtro Ortiz. Bazan admitted
she ran the stash house in Rio Grande City and that Calixtro
Ortiz paid her $30 per day per alien she housed.
Valles was convicted by Jury on June 2, 2005 and sentenced to
30 months in prison. Severn pleaded guilty March 8, 2005 and
was sentenced to 12 months. Bazan also pleaded guilty March 8,
2005, but has not yet been sentenced.
In this criminal organization’s typical mode of smuggling, the
defendants either drove loads themselves or recruited drivers,
such as Torres and Charles Salyers, 30, of College Station. They
routinely transported aliens in a horse trailer with a live horse,
designed to make the trip look legitimate. The aliens were then
transported through one of the South Texas Border Patrol checkpoints
on the way to Bryan, normally hidden in the tack room at the
front of the trailers. Often, drivers transported multiple loads
of aliens to Bryan in a single day. Drivers hired by the defendants
revealed to investigators they had been paid as much as $70,000
each for their services.
From Bryan, Texas, the illegal aliens then traveled to their
destinations throughout the United States. Family members of
the smuggled aliens paid the smuggling fees by Western Union
wire transfer to Ortiz family members or associates in Bryan.
In total, investigators recovered receipts for about $800,000
in Western Union money transfers from families of smuggled aliens
to the Ortiz organization in Bryan.
More than 40 U.S. Border Patrol and Texas Highway Patrol seizures
of illegal aliens in South Texas have been linked to the Ortiz
Darcy Ortiz Quezada, 24, of Bryan, and Salyers previously entered
guilty pleas in Laredo to the same count of the indictment and
are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 3, 2008. The alleged leader
of the conspiracy, Baudel Ortiz, 31, of Bryan, until recently
was a fugitive. However, on Aug. 17, he was apprehended in Bryan
and was presented for initial appearance in federal court in
Laredo on Aug. 19. His detention hearing is scheduled for Aug.
The statutory maximum penalty for each alien smuggling violation
is a maximum term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years,
a maximum $250,000 fine, and a term of supervised release of
up to three years.
Kansas City Plead
Guilty to Coercing Prostitution, Money Laundering, and Identity
Missouri (ICE) — The three owners and operators of Asian massage
parlors in Johnson County, Kan., pleaded guilty in federal
Thursday to engaging in human trafficking by coercing their employees,
whom they recruited from China, to engage in prostitution. This
plea was announced by John F. Wood, U.S. Attorney, Western District
of Missouri. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, and other law enforcement
"Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery that
reaches from the other side of the globe to the suburban Midwest," Wood
said. "Chinese women were recruited to travel to Kansas
City, then coerced to work as prostitutes at massage parlors.
These businesses have been shut down and the owners brought to
justice. We have also provided social services to assist their
"Victims of human trafficking are deceived, coerced or
threatened by their captors," said Gary Hartwig, special
agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE
will work closely with our law enforcement partners to identify
and protect the victims, and prosecute their captors." Hartwig
oversees a six-state area, which includes: Missouri, Illinois,
Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky and Wisconsin.
Ling Xu, also known as "Cherry," 46, Zhong Yan Liu,
also known as "Lucky," 36, and Cheng Tang, also known
as "Tom," 22, all citizens of China residing in Overland
Park, pleaded guilty in separate appearances this morning before
U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan. Each of the defendants
pleaded guilty to coercing persons to travel across state lines
and national borders to engage in prostitution and illegal sexual
services. They also pleaded guilty to money laundering by wiring
more than $500,000 from the proceeds of that unlawful activity
to China. Xu also pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft
for using the passports and identification of her female workers
to make most of those wire transfers. All three defendants remain
in federal custody.
Xu and Liu are married to other persons, with
whom they have limited contact, and were living together with
Xu’s son, Tang.
Xu, Liu and Tang were involved in operating massage parlors,
including: "China Rose Massage" and "China Villa
Massage/Lin Dynasty" in Overland Park; and, at the times
charges were filed, they were preparing to open "Victoria
Square" in Overland Park. They also operated a nearby residence
that was used for prostitution.
Co-defendant Hongmei Madole, also known as Hongmei
Zhou, 32, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty April 24 to coercing
to travel across state lines and national borders to engage in
prostitution and illegal sexual services. Madole owned "Asian
Touch Massage" in Olathe.
Xu, Liu and Tang recruited female Asians to travel to the Kansas
City area to work as masseuses. They facilitated the women’s
travel, including, but not limited to, booking and purchasing
the flights for the women. They would fly the women into the
Kansas City, Mo., International Airport and then transport or
have them transported to the businesses. Xu and Tang signed massage
therapy license applications, as the manager of the businesses,
for the females to obtain massage therapy licenses with the city
of Overland Park.
Xu, Liu, and Tang placed ads in the Kansas City
magazine, The Pitch, which stated the massage parlors offered,
for example, "The
most elegant environment and the most comfortable atmosphere
in town. With free table shower and free Sauna!" The ads
stated that the massage parlors were open seven days a week,
from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tang also posted and maintained ads for
the business at ASPD.net, a website where male customers posted
reviews of the sexual services offered by China Rose and China
Villa Massage/Lin Dynasty.
The female Asians who worked for Xu, Liu, and Tang worked from
9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week and lived inside the massage
parlors. Xu, Liu and Tang operated surveillance cameras inside
the massage parlors to monitor the female Asian workers. Inside
the massage parlors, the female Asian workers were forced to
perform sexual services on male patrons in exchange for money.
Xu, Liu, and Tang also used a nearby apartment, within walking
distance of one of the massage parlors, to have the female Asian
workers provide extended sexual services to some male patrons.
Xu and Liu purchased supplies to be used in the prostitution
activities, including bulk orders of condoms that were provided
to the females for use while engaging in the prostitution activities.
Xu, Liu, and Tang used businesses, such as 888 Market and Ho’s
Oriental Market, to wire at least $452,500 in proceeds from the
prostitution businesses, via Western Union, to several locations
in China. Xu wired at least $343,600 in this manner from 2005
to 2006. Of this amount, Xu wired $318,600 by illegally taking
and using her female worker’s passports and identification. Liu
wired at least $74,500 and Tang wired at least $34,400.
Xu was the head of these businesses, as the lead owner and operator.
Xu also employed and paid Liu and Tang for their work and assistance
in committing the offenses.
By pleading guilty today, Xu, Liu, and Tang also agreed to forfeit
to the government $452,500, which represented the proceeds of
the unlawful activity, as well as $60,497 that was seized by
the FBI during the execution of federal search warrants at the
defendants’ residences and businesses.
Xu is a native and citizen of China. She has resided legally
in the United States pending adjudication of immigration benefits.
Liu entered the United States on a visitor’s visa which expired
in 2001. He remained in the United States illegally thereafter.
Madole is a native of China who is a conditional resident alien
in the United States based upon marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Under federal statutes, Xu, Liu, and Tang are each subject to
a sentence of up to 40 years in federal prison without parole.
Xu is also subject to an additional mandatory term of two years
in federal prison without parole for aggravated identity theft,
which must be served consecutively to her sentence on the other
offenses. Madole could be subject to a sentence of up to 20 years
in federal prison without parole. Sentencing hearings will be
scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes its presentence
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes, Western District
of Missouri, is prosecuting this case. It was investigated by
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the police
departments of Overland Park, Kan., Olathe, Kan., Mission, Kan.,
Lenexa, Kan., and Independence, Mo., and the Kansas Bureau of