Mexican National Jailed for Sex-Trafficking in the Carolinas
by Jim Kouri
Jesus Perez-Laguna, a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced in federal court in Columbia, S.C., on charges stemming from a sex trafficking ring involving at least one teenage girl. Perez-Laguna was sentenced to over 14 years imprisonment and ordered to pay $52,500 in restitution to his victims. After his release from prison, Perez-Laguna will be on federal supervised release for the rest of his life.
As a condition of supervised release, U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson ordered that Perez-Laguna be surrendered to immigration officials for deportation proceedings and further ordered that Perez-Laguna not return to the United States while on supervised release.
In April, Perez-Laguna’s co-defendant, Ciro Bustos-Rosales, was sentenced to 70 months in prison, ordered to pay restitution, and ordered to comply with similar terms and conditions of release as those included in Perez-Laguna’s sentence.
During their guilty plea hearings in September 2007, both men admitted that they were involved with transporting a 14-year-old girl across the border between the United States and Mexico and the border between North Carolina and South Carolina in order for the minor to engage in prostitution. Additionally, both men admitted that they harbored illegal aliens for the purpose of prostitution.
“Sex traffickers prey on young girls and vulnerable women who are brought into the United States, kept far from home, and forced into prostitution,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Court’s sentence demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to prosecuting those who exploited this young victim, who hopefully can now move on to a better life.”
“This is a fitting end to a disturbing case. Mr. Perez-Laguna had no regard whatsoever for the young girls he enslaved and victimized,” stated W. Walter Wilkins, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. “I applaud the dedication and hard work of the investigative agents who exposed this ring and the prosecutors who ensured the convictions.”
“Sex traffickers represent one of the most disturbing segments of organized criminal activity,” said Gretchen C.F. Shappert, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. “The damage they cause to their victims is incalculable. We are grateful to our colleagues in state and federal law enforcement who have brought these predators to justice.”
Perez-Laguna and Bustos-Rosales are two of three defendants indicted in August 2007 by a federal grand jury in Columbia following a federal sex trafficking investigation. The third co-defendant, Guadalupe Reyes-Rivera, also known as “Mama Martina,” is a fugitive.
Because the illegal activities uncovered in this investigation involved incidents in both South Carolina and North Carolina, cases related to this investigation were jointly prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark C. Moore and Tara L. McGregor from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Ryan McKinstry, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimlani M. Ford and Kenneth M. Smith from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.