June 26, 2014

El Paso Woman Arrested and Indicted for Inducing Foreign or Interstate Travel for Prostitution

In El Paso, 44-year-old Maria Blake (aka “Jessica” and “Yvonne”) faces federal charges involving foreign or interstate travel for prostitution, announced Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Dennis Ulrich.

A federal grand jury indictment, unsealed during Blake’s initial appearance yesterday, charges Blake with two counts of coercion and enticement. The indictment alleges that from July 2011 until January 2013, Blake knowingly persuaded or attempted to persuade individuals to travel in foreign or interstate commerce to engage in prostitution. The indictment also contains notice of criminal forfeiture wherein the government is seeking the forfeiture of proceeds that facilitated or were derived from Blake’s scheme, including U.S. currency and real property located in El Paso.

Blake remains in federal custody following her arrest on Tuesday. She is scheduled to have a detention hearing at 9:00 a.m. on Friday before United States Magistrate Judge Robert F. Castañeda. Each count calls for up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction.

Blake was 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.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.