Four Indicted in Connection with Human Trafficking Operation
Indictments a Result of First Arrests Made by AG’s Office Under New Human Trafficking Law
BOSTON – Four individuals, including a husband and wife, have been indicted in connection with allegedly running a human trafficking operation in and around the Boston area, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today. These indictments are a result of the first arrests made by AG Coakley’s Office under the new human trafficking law in Massachusetts, which went into effect on February 19, 2012.
Rafael Henriquez, age 39, and his wife Ramona Carpio Hernandez, age 50, both of East Boston, were indicted yesterday by a Special Statewide Grand Jury each on one count of Trafficking in Persons for Sexual Servitude, Conspiracy to Traffic Person for Sexual Servitude, Owner of a Place Inducing or Suffering a Person to Resort in Such Place for Sexual Intercourse, Deriving Support from Prostitution, and Keeping a House of Ill Fame. Milton Lopez-Martinez, age 27, and Diego Suarez, age 35, were also indicted by a Suffolk County Grand Jury each on one count of the same charges listed above.
These indictments are the result of a joint, months-long investigation and subsequent grand jury investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Massachusetts State Police, working in close cooperation with the Boston Police Department, Lynn Police Department and Chelsea Police. Utilizing state-of-the art investigative techniques, investigators and prosecutors developed evidence against these individuals that associated them with a sophisticated human trafficking operation.
“We allege that these individuals ran an extensive human trafficking operation, in which they profited from sexual services provided by women they transported into the Boston area for that purpose,” said AG Coakley. “These indictments are part of our efforts to investigate and prosecute criminal organizations involved in the trafficking and exploitation of people for sex. We would like to thank HSI and our local police partners for making this investigation and these indictments possible.”
“The indictments in this case are the result of the great partnership HSI has with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office and Massachusetts State Police in our unyielding resolve to bring human traffickers to justice,” said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "To effectively identify and aid the victims and prosecute the traffickers, the public must remain alert to recognize and identify victims of this crime who are in our midst. Law enforcement throughout Massachusetts is committed to giving victims the help they need to come forward and help us end human trafficking.”
Investigators allege that Hernandez and Henriquez were the leaders of this organization, running a sophisticated human trafficking operation that transported numerous women into the area, housing them in deplorable conditions for a week at a time. The AG’s Office alleges these women were brought to Massachusetts for the sole purpose of engaging in the sex trade and that these defendants recruited the women, and enticed them to engage in sexual acts with “johns,” sometimes up to 15 times a day. The investigation also determined that Lopez-Martinez and Suarez allegedly handled the daily operations of the organization, including supervising the two primary locations in East Boston and Chelsea as well as transporting women to house calls of other “johns.”
On March 23, 2012, Henriquez, Hernandez, and Lopez-Martinez were arrested without incident by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office. On the same date, Suarez was arrested without incident in Chelsea. All four defendants were arraigned on March 26, 2012. Henriquez, Hernandez, and Lopez-Martinez were arraigned in East Boston District Court and Suarez in Chelsea District Court. All four defendants pleaded not guilty and each was held on $75,000 cash bail. The four defendants were indicted yesterday by a Special Statewide Grand Jury. They are due back in Suffolk Superior Court on June 7, 2012 to be arraigned.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Marina Moriarty of the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division and Assistant Attorney General Deb Bercovitch, who handles human trafficking prosecutions within the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, with assistance from Investigator Kevin Cwirka of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigations Division. Victim Witness Advocate Nikki Antonucci of the AG’s Victim Services Division is also assisting in the case. The investigation was conducted by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Boston Police Department.