WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Cristina Andres Perfecto, of Nashville, Tenn., pleaded guilty today to two counts of commercial sex trafficking related to her role in a Memphis trafficking ring. Perfecto admitted that she recruited two Mexican girls to come to the United States under fraudulent pretenses, knowing that the girls would be coerced into engaging in commercial sex acts and knowing that the victims were younger than 18 years of age. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for her crimes. At her plea hearing, Perfecto admitted that she told the girls, who were 13 and 17 years of age at the time, that they would be employed at a restaurant in Nashville, knowing all along that the girls would be coerced to engage in prostitution in brothels in Memphis and Nashville. Perfecto further admitted that co-defendant Juan Mendez then used physical force and threats against the victims and their families to force the victims to engage in prostitution. Perfecto also admitted that she instructed the girls on how to engage in commercial sexual acts. "The victims in this case were thrust into the brutal and demeaning world of human trafficking, fed lies, and treated as modern-day slaves," said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement and prosecution of human trafficking offenses." Juan Mendez remains under indictment for two counts of child sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to harbor an illegal alien. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Nine other defendants in the same case pleaded guilty earlier in the month to crimes including child sex trafficking, conspiracy to launder money, enticing an individual to travel in interstate commerce to commit prostitution, and failure to file a factual statement about an alien. Human trafficking prosecutions are a top priority of the Department. In the last six fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys' Offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court, quadrupled the number of defendants charged, and tripled the number of defendants convicted. In 2006, the Department obtained a record number of convictions in human trafficking prosecutions. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Parker of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Tennessee and Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti from the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are prosecuting the case. The investigation in this matter is being conducted by ICE and the FBI. World Relief, Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, and the YWCA have assisted the victims and witnesses in this matter.
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice