Florence Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking of 15-Year-Old Girl
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 29, 2011|
HUNTSVILLE, AL—A federal judge today sentenced a Florence man to more than 15 years in prison for the sex trafficking of a 15-year-old girl, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Ray Parmer.
U.S. District Judge C. Lynwood Smith Jr. sentenced MANUEL ENRIQUE ZELAYA-RODRIGUEZ, 32, on charges of trafficking the underage girl for sex, coercing a minor to engage in prostitution, harboring an illegal alien, and failing to file a report with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about an illegal alien in his employment. A federal jury in Florence convicted Zelaya-Rodriguez in September 2010. Zelaya-Rodriguez is an illegal alien who will be subject to deportation after serving his sentence of 15 years and eight months.
Zelaya-Rodriguez, also known as Mecanico, harbored the girl in Lauderdale County and caused her to engage in commercial sex acts between about Aug. 25, 2009, and Sept. 8, 2009, according to court records. Florence police arrested Zelaya-Rodriguez in September 2009 following a traffic stop near a trailer park where there had been complaints of prostitution. The 15-year-old girl was in the car with Zelaya-Rodriguez and subsequently told police he was prostituting her.
“This defendant exploited the desperate situation of a child who he knew was in the country illegally and put her to work for him as a prostitute,” Vance said. “Within two weeks, Zelaya-Rodriguez collected money from 40 to 50 men who paid to have sex with the child. This is human trafficking and it is a morally reprehensible crime. The message with today’s sentence is that the Department of Justice and my office will not tolerate crimes of human trafficking,” she said.
“I applaud the sentence handed down today. Human traffickers violate human dignity and the basic human rights of victims to be free from sexual abuse, exploitation and slavery, and must be held accountable for their deplorable actions.” Maley said.
“Exploitation of children in any form is despicable, but sexual exploitation is particularly heinous” Parmer said. “HSI will go the extra mile to catch those individuals who prey on these innocent victims. Identifying and investigating those who victimize children is one of HSI’s most important responsibilities and HSI is committed to hunting down these predators.”
The FBI, ICE-HSI, and the Florence Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Stuart Burrell and Daniel Fortune prosecuted the case.