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Puerto Rican Human Trafficker Who Tried To Get Five Brazilians Into The USA Through St. Thomas Gets 18 Months

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE – A Puerto Rico native who tried to bribe a U.S. Customs agent in an effort to smuggle five Brazilians through the St. Thomas airport was sentenced to prison in federal court on Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez sentenced Miguel Rodriguez-Ramirez, 45, of Puerto Rico, to 18 months’ imprisonment and three years of supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Ronald Sharpe.

Gomez also ordered Rodriguez-Ramirez to pay a $100 special assessment, perform 300 hours of community service, and forfeit the $12,080.00 used to bribe the public official.

On February 12, 2016, Rodriguez-Ramirez pleaded guilty to bribery of a public official.

According   to   the   plea   agreement   filed   with   the   court, between July 2015 and December 2015, Rodriquez-Ramirez bribed a public official by paying that public official to smuggle illegal aliens into the United States.

Rodriquez-Ramirez paid the customs agent a total of $12,080 to shepherd the illegal aliens through customs at the Cyril E. King International Airport.

Human trafficking is an ongoing problem for Brazil.

Brazil is a source country for men, women, girls, and boys subjected to human trafficking, specifically forced prostitution within the country and abroad, as well as a source country for men and boys in forced labor within the country. In 2012 Brazilian TV made a soap opera about Human trafficking called Salve Jorge.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, sex trafficking of Brazilian women occurs in every Brazilian state and the federal district. A large number of Brazilian women and children, many from the state of Goiás, are found in forced prostitution abroad, often in Spain, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Germany, and the United States, but also as far away as Japan. Brazilian authorities have uncovered evidence that foreign organized criminal networks, particularly from Russia and Spain, are involved in sex trafficking of Brazilian women.

There is evidence that some Brazilian transsexuals have been subjected to forced prostitution abroad. Brazilian women and children are also subjected to forced prostitution in neighboring countries such as Argentina, Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela, and Paraguay. To a lesser extent, women from neighboring countries have been identified in sexual servitude in Brazil.

The case was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Internal Affairs and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Professional Responsibility.

It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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