October 22, 2014

El Paso Couple Pleads Guilty to Inducing Foreign or Interstate Travel for Prostitution

In El Paso, 45-year-old Maria Blake (a.k.a. “Jessica,” “Yvonne”) and her 45–year-old husband, Ronald, face up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal charges involving foreign or interstate travel for prostitution announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Dennis Ulrich and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.

Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Norbert Garney this morning, Ronald Blake pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting coercion and enticement. Maria Blake pleaded guilty to the same charge yesterday. By pleading guilty, the Blakes admitted that from July 2011 until January 2013, they ran a prostitution service whereby they knowingly persuaded, or attempted to persuade, approximately five females to travel from Juarez to El Paso to engage in sexual activity for financial gain.

The Blakes are on bond pending sentencing. No sentencing date has been scheduled. The Government is also seeking the criminal forfeiture of their residence located in the 2400 block of Tierra Nueva in El Paso. Authorities allege that the residence was used to facilitate their prostitution scheme.

The Blakes were arrested based on an investigation initiated by the El Paso Anti-trafficking Coordination Team (ACT Team). The ACT Team is a human trafficking task force composed of members from the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigation, and the Department of Labor Assistant United States Attorney Rifian Newaz is prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.