Four Enter Guilty Pleas to Sex Trafficking Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 01, 2010|
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA—United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt announced that on October 21, 2010, Merrideth June (“Mary”) Crane-Horton, age 32, and Edwin Nathan (“Nate”) Horton, age 35, each entered pleas of guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer to Count 1 of a superseding indictment charging conspiracy to commit or financially benefit from sex trafficking in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1594(c), 1591(a)(1) and (a)(2), and 1591(b)(2); and on October 18, 2010, Katherine Heredia, age 23, and Ramon D. Heredia, age 21, each entered a plea of guilty before United States District Court Judge James E. Gritzner to the same charge. In particular, the defendants each admitted being knowingly and intentionally involved in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in which a 15-year-old girl was enticed into the conspiracy and then coerced to perform commercial sex acts on at least two occasions.
The defendants each also admitted that in the course of the conspiracy, various young adult women were enticed into the conspiracy to perform commercial sex acts, and then coerced, including by physical assaults and the threat of physical assault, to continue to perform commercial sex acts on behalf of the conspiracy. The defendants each admitted that all of the defendants benefitted financially from the commercial sex acts, including those sex acts performed by the 15-year-old girl. The defendants each further admitted that commercial sex acts on behalf of the conspiracy were performed in both Nebraska and Iowa, and that the conspiracy employed the Internet in interstate commerce to solicit purchasers of the commercial sex acts.
Sentencings for all of the defendants are set for February 7, 2011. Each of the defendants faces a statutory penalty of up to life imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000.00, a term of supervised release of at least five years following any imprisonment for a term of years, a $100.00 special assessment to the Crime Victims Fund, and restitution to the victims of the sex trafficking, should any restitution be found to be owing. All of the defendants also agreed to forfeit to the government a GPS device, various cell phones, and various computers and associated electronic media, all of which had been used in the commercial sex act venture. All of the defendants remain in the custody of the United States Marshal pending sentencing.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Council Bluffs Police Department, with assistance from the Omaha Police Department, and is being prosecuted by the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of Iowa. The case was initiated by a “prostitution sting operation” operated in Council Bluffs by the Council Bluffs Police Department and the FBI on January 21, 2010.