Guatemalan National Convicted After Nine-Day Federal Trial for Sex Trafficking of a Minor and Related Charges
Defendant Caused More Than Eight Individuals, Including Minors, to Engage in Commercial Sex Acts for His Own Financial Benefit by Means of Force, Fraud, and Coercion
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal jury convicted Feliciano de Jesus Diaz-Martinez, a/k/a Alex, age 43, of Owings Mills, Maryland, yesterday for sex trafficking of a child, enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution, sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and distribution of a controlled substance. Diaz-Martinez has been in custody since his indictment on July 25, 2019.
The guilty verdict was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
According to the evidence presented at his nine-day trial, from at least 2016 through May 2019, Diaz-Martinez, a Guatemalan national in the United States illegally, caused more than eight individuals, including minors, to engage in commercial sex acts for his own financial benefit by means of force, fraud, and coercion. Trial testimony confirmed that Diaz-Martinez knew that Victim 1 was 16 years old when he first caused her to engage in commercial sex acts. Victim 1 continued to work for Diaz-Martinez until she was approximately 18 years old. The evidence proved that nearly all of the victims that Diaz-Martinez caused to engage in commercial sex acts suffered from serious substance abuse disorders, including addictions to heroin, crack cocaine, and Xanax. Diaz-Martinez took half or all of the money earned by the victims working for him, and sold some of the victims narcotics, often at prices significantly higher than he paid to purchase the drugs.
As detailed in trial testimony, Diaz-Martinez maintained a network of friends and associates who paid to engage in commercial sex acts with the victims Diaz-Martinez advertised and made available to them. Diaz-Martinez sent his customers pictures of the victims available for commercial sex and set the prices that customers would pay to engage in sex acts with the victims he controlled. Diaz-Martinez then transported, or caused to be transported, victims to his customers’ homes, or to hotel rooms he rented, to engage in commercial sex acts. The evidence showed that Diaz-Martinez also invited customers to engage in commercial sex acts with victims in his apartment and in a storage unit that he rented.
Witnesses testified that Diaz-Martinez maintained several different accounts in alias names on a social media platform, which he used to recruit and communicate with the victims in order to entice them to work for him and engage in commercial sex acts, including many users he had never met. The jury found that Diaz-Martinez sometimes offered the users he communicated with heroin and crack cocaine, referred to as “boy” and “girl,” in exchange for engaging in commercial sex with his customers. Diaz-Martinez also directed the victims working for him to recruit their friends, many of whom were also addicted to narcotics, to engage in commercial sex for his financial benefit.
Several victims testified that Diaz-Martinez frequently demanded that they engage in sex acts with him, free of charge, and that he retaliated against the victims if he was not personally satisfied with the sexual encounter. Diaz-Martinez also retaliated against victims who violated his rules, failed to earn sufficient money from commercial sex, or otherwise displeased him in a number of ways, including, abandoning them at customers’ homes and on roadsides without their belongings or transportation and withholding drugs from the victims whom he knew to be addicted.
Diaz-Martinez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and for enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution; a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison for each of four counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; and a maximum of 20 years in prison for distribution of controlled substances. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for February 11, 2022 at 2:00 p.m.
This case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_human.html.
Report suspected instances of human trafficking to HSI's tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended HSI Baltimore, the Baltimore County Police Department and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary W. Setzer and P. Michael Cunningham, who are prosecuting the case.
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Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Maryland