Man pleads guilty to running prostitution ring in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man is facing up to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to running an interstate prostitution ring out of a Charlotte residence he turned into a brothel.
Filemon Guzman-Martinez, 40, a Mexican National, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Charlotte before U.S. Magistrate Judge David C. Keesler to transporting individuals in interstate commerce for prostitution, enticing individuals to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution, and unlawful transportation of an alien, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
On October 18, 2011, a criminal indictment charged Guzman-Martinez with one count of interstate transportation of individuals for prostitution, one count of persuading, inducing, enticing or coercing individuals to travel interstate to engage in prostitution, and one count of unlawful transportation of an alien. The defendant pled guilty to all the charges.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from about February to October 2011, the defendant operated a residential brothel at 5726 Southampton Road, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Guzman-Martinez handed out to prospective prostitution customers business cards that had his mobile phone number, pictures of women posed and dressed in sexually suggestive manner, and the question, "What do you have to lose?" Customers then called the defendant to request a prostitute.
According to information in court documents and court proceedings, these sexual encounters cost twenty-five dollars each. Guzman-Martinez received ten dollars for every prostitution customer serviced and the prostitute received fifteen dollars.
The defendant stated that the prostitutes, who came from various states in the United States, agreed to stay with him about one week at a time and he transported them to and from other locations to work as prostitutes.
One of the prostitutes who worked for Guzman-Martinez told law enforcement officers that she serviced eight to ten customers each day.
"Sex trafficking is a horrible crime that treats sex as a commodity and exploits vulnerable persons for financial benefit," said U.S. Attorney Tompkins. "This case provides a window into the underground world of sex trafficking and shows that it happens in communities like ours. My office is committed to the aggressive prosecution of all sex trafficking cases, and I call upon the public to report any suspicious activity that may help us apprehend and prosecute those engaged in these crimes."
"Few crimes are more heinous than the sex trafficking of human beings," said Special Agent in Charge Nicholson, "ICE/HSI will vigorously pursue and prosecute any members of a criminal enterprise engaged in this dangerous, dehumanizing and illegal business."
The defendant has been in local federal custody in the Western District of North Carolina since he was arrested in October 2011.
Guzman-Martinez faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are not biding but provide advisory sentencing ranges. A sentencing date for the defendant has not been set yet.
The investigation is handled by ICE/HSI. The prosecution for the government is handled by Assistant United States Attorney Kenneth M. Smith of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Charlotte.
January 11th Is Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Human trafficking dehumanizes and traumatizes victims while often shocking communities upon its discovery. Victims include U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and foreign-born men, women, and children who are trafficked for sex and/or labor purposes in both large cities and small towns.
On January 11th, Human Trafficking Awareness Day, help educate and drive public attention to this crime that violates our nation's commitment to human rights and dignity.
If you think you have identified a victim of human trafficking please call the National Hotline at 1-888-3737-888 or email NHRTC@polarisproject.org.