For Immediate Release - February 21, 2014

Husband and Wife Found Guilty of Running Human Trafficking Operation in Boston Area

BOSTON – A husband and wife have been found guilty of running a human trafficking operation in and around the Boston area, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.

Following an eight-day trial, a Suffolk Superior Court jury today found Rafael Henriquez, age 40, and his wife Ramona Carpio Hernandez, age 52, both of East Boston, guilty on the charges of Trafficking in Persons for Sexual Servitude, Being an Owner of a House of Prostitution, Deriving Support from Prostitution, and Keeping a House of Ill Fame.

Diego Suarez, age 36, of Chelsea, was found guilty on the charges of Being an Owner of a House of Prostitution, Deriving Support from Prostitution, and Keeping a House of Ill Fame.

Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre will sentence the defendants in Suffolk Superior Court on Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. They are currently being held without bail pending sentencing.

“These defendants ran a criminal enterprise that targeted and exploited women for their own personal profit,” AG Coakley said. “Today’s convictions are an important step in our efforts to combat human trafficking. We thank HSI for their important work throughout this case.”  

“This conviction is a result of the great partnership HSI has with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and Massachusetts State Police, and 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.”

These convictions are the first made by the AG’s Office since the passage of the state human trafficking law and are believed to be the second set of convictions statewide. The AG’s Office currently has human trafficking charges pending against 11 other individuals in separate cases.

These convictions 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 establishing that they were associated with a sophisticated human trafficking operation.

Investigation revealed 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. These women were brought to Massachusetts for the sole purpose of engaging in the sex trade and 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 established that Suarez helped handle the daily operations of the organization, including supervising one of the primary locations where this activity took place in Chelsea.

On March 23, 2012, Henriquez and Hernandez 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 three defendants were arraigned on March 26, 2012 and were later indicted by a Special Statewide Grand Jury on May 24, 2012.

For more information about the Attorney General’s work to combat human trafficking, please visit our website here.  

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Marina Moriarty of the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division and Assistant Attorney General Deb Bercovitch, head of the AG’s Human Trafficking Unit, with assistance from Paralegal Lindsay Bonda.Victim Witness Advocate Nikki Antonucci of the AG’s Victim Services Division also assisted in the case. The investigation was conducted by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

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