January 6, 2015

El Paso Couple Sentenced to Federal Prison for Inducing Foreign or Interstate Travel for Prostitution

In El Paso today, 45-year-old Maria Blake (aka “Jessica,” “Yvonne”) and her 45–year-old husband, Ronald, were sentenced to 30 months and six months in federal prison respectively inducing foreign or interstate travel for prostitution announced Acting United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Acting Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Tom Hernandez and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist.

In addition to the prison terms, United States District Judge Kathleen Cardone ordered that Maria Blake pay a $1,000 fine and be placed under supervised release for a period of ten years after completing her prison term. Judge Cardone also ordered that Ronald Blake pay a $500 fine, remain under home confinement for six months and be placed under supervised release for a period of ten years after completing his prison term. Furthermore, Judge Cardone ordered that the defendants’ residence located in the 2400 block of Tierra Nueva in El Paso be forfeited to the Government as it was used to facilitate their prostitution scheme.

In October 2014, both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting coercion and enticement. 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 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 FBI, HSI and the Department of Labor.

“The ACT Team is an effective and efficient law enforcement force multiplier by which we can identify, arrest and prosecute criminals involved in luring and prostituting young women,” said Acting HSI SAC Hernandez. “Criminal networks that may have operated in our region and gone undetected before are on our radar now.”

Assistant United States Attorney Rifian Newaz prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.