NEW YORK (AP) — A Mexican immigrant who was a driver for a prostitution ring that forced young women to have sex with up to 20 customers a day in the New York City area was sentenced on Thursday to four years in prison.
Carlos Garcia-De La Rosa had pleaded guilty in January in federal court in Manhattan to conspiracy and child pornography charges. The pornography charge stemmed from a separate statutory rape case involving a 14-year-old girl he photographed.
The defendant was among more than a dozen people named last year in a criminal complaint charging them with smuggling dozens of poor Mexican women into the United States and forcing them into prostitution.
Garcia-De La Rosa, 32, was born into poverty in Puebla, Mexico. He came to the United States at 18 and worked odd jobs before joining the prostitution ring to support himself.
"I made this grave mistake. ... Only God knows how sorry I am," he wrote in a letter to the court.
U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest told Garcia-De La Rosa on Thursday that though he had a lesser role in the scheme, it was vital to keeping it alive. Prosecutors alleged that he and other drivers delivered the women to rural New Jersey or dingy brothels in New York to have sex with dozens of laborers paying $30 for 15-minute sessions. The women got little or no pay.
"All of that was dehumanizing," the judge said. "... Each one of those instances was a tragedy."
Most of the victims were from Tenancingo, an impoverished town in Tlaxcala state. The region has long been a notorious haven for pimps who use a combination of threats, abuse and broken promises of marriage and jobs to put victims, some only in their teens, on a path to sex slavery in Mexico City and in large cities in the United States.
In interviews with investigators, one woman described how when she refused to work at brothels located in apartments in Queens and suburban Yonkers, she and her child were locked out of their home on a cold winter night. She also told authorities that her pimps, believing she was pregnant, forced to take drugs intended to induce a miscarriage, and that she was beaten when she tried to withhold some of her earnings.
Last month, the judge sentenced a prostitution ring leader to life in prison.
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