For Immediate Release - March 13, 2014

Husband and Wife Sentenced to State Prison for Running Human Trafficking Operation in Boston Area

Wife Sentenced to Six to Eight Years in State Prison; Husband Sentenced to Five to Seven Years

BOSTON – A husband and wife have been sentenced to state prison after being convicted of running a human trafficking operation in and around the Boston area, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today.

Today, Superior Court Judge Frances McIntyre sentenced Ramona Carpio Hernandez, age 52, of East Boston, to six to eight years in state prison, with five years of probation to serve upon completion of her sentence. Judge McIntyre sentence her husband, Rafael Henriquez, age 40, also of East Boston, to five to seven years in state prison, with five years of probation to serve upon completion of his sentence.

“These lengthy state prison sentences send a clear message that the exploitation of vulnerable people will not be tolerated in our communities,” AG Coakley said. “We thank Homeland Security Investigations for their important work throughout this case. Our office will continue to work with our federal and local partners to aggressively investigate and prosecute human trafficking.”

On Feb. 21, following an eight-day trial, a Suffolk Superior Court jury found Henriquez and Hernandez 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.

“It is an honor to assist in the Attorney General’s Office’s conviction and to be a part of the first human trafficking arrests within the State of Massachusetts,” said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Boston. “These women were brought to Massachusetts for the sole purpose of engaging in the sex trade, and it is the goal of federal, state and local law enforcement to stop organizations from making Massachusetts a place where this can happen.”

Diego Suarez, age 36, of Chelsea, was sentenced today by Judge McIntyre to three to five years in state prison, with five years of probation to serve upon completion of his sentence. Suarez 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.

These convictions were 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, Chief of the AG’s Human Trafficking Unit, with assistance from Paralegal Lindsay Bonda and AG Coakley’s Digital Evidence Lab. 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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