A brutal sex trafficking ring that was first busted in 1998 is finally coming to an official close with the last two leaders of the multinational network pleading guilty in federal court.
Alberto Cadena-Sosa, a 46-year-old Mexican national, was sentenced to 15 years after pleading guilty to conspiring and holding a person in a condition of involuntary servitude. U.S. District Court Judge Joes E. Martinez also ordered Cadena-Sosa to pay $1,261,563 in restitution to 16 victims.
Carmen Cadena, 48 and also from Mexico, pleaded guilty to a slew of horrific charges. According tot the FBI, those charges include:
"one count of conspiracy for conspiring with other members of the Cadena organization to unlawfully encourage and bring undocumented victims into the U.S.; unlawfully transport victims within the U.S.; unlawfully harbor victims within the U.S.; unlawfully coerce and transport victims, including victims as young as 14-years-old, into the U.S. for purposes of illegal sexual activity; and unlawfully use extortionate means to collect extensions of credit made to the victims."
For all that, Cadena faces a maximum sentence of only five years in prison and a fine of $500,000. She'll find out what she gets May 18.
As part of Cadena-Sosa's plea, he and his associates tricked women and girls, some as young as 14 years old, by luring them from Veracruz, Mexico, to the United States with promises of legitimate jobs. After smuggling the women and girls into the U.S., Cadena-Sosa and other members of his crew forced them into prostitution to pay the smuggling debts. If any of the women or girls tried to run away, they faced brutal beatings, sexual assaults, and threats of death, according to the plea. The victims were forced to engage in prostitution 12 hours a day, six days a week, with the proceeds going to the Cadena-Sosa ring.
Although the case was first opened in 1998, Alberto Cadena-Sosa and Carmen Cadena managed to escape the long arm of the law by hiding out on Mexico. But in 2013 and 2014 respectively, the pair was apprehended by Mexican authorities and extradited to the U.S. to get their day in court.
The other members of the ring have already been busted and have either done their time or are still doing it. From the FBI:
Cadena-Sosa's uncle, Rogerio Cadena, who pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to 15 years; Cadena-Sosa's brother, Abel Cadena-Sosa, who was convicted in Mexico and sentenced to 24 years, and two other brothers, Hugo and Juan Luis Cadena-Sosa--Carmen Cadena's husband--, who pleaded guilty in 2002 and 2008, and were sentenced to five years and 15 years respectively. Six other defendants previously pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with the scheme, and one was convicted in state court for a murder outside a Cadena-run brothel.
According to a 1998 New York Times story, the Cadena-Sosa ring was first busted by the feds that year after an investigation that began in 1996. In the original indictment, 16 people were charged, with six from the Cadena-Sosa family, for smuggling women and girls across the border and forcing them to work in makeshift brothels -- usually in migrant worker camps near cities like Tampa, Orlando, and Fort Myers as well as Lake City and John's Island in South Carolina.
The brothel owners charged johns $20 for sex but gave only $3 to the victims to pay toward the $2,000 smuggling "fee."