Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Spokane – Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced Roberto L. Llerenas, Jr., age 36, of Benton City, Washington, was sentenced today to 30 years in federal prison as a result of his convictions on four counts of trafficking two children under 18 for commercial sex.
On June 30, 2016, the defendant was found guilty by jury trial on two counts of Sex Trafficking of Children or Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud or Coercion and two counts of Financially Benefiting from Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud, or Coercion, all involving two victims.
Today, Senior United States District Judge Edward F. Shea, who presided over the trial, sentenced Llerenas to a total of 30 years in federal prison for each count of conviction, with the sentences to run concurrently. Judge Shea further ordered that Llerenas must spend the rest of his life on supervised release and must register as a sex offender.
Llerenas prostituted two fifteen-year-old girls between June 1, 2013 and July 13, 2013, in and around migrant worker camps, in the Pasco, Washington and Wenatchee, Washington areas. Llerenas had a pattern wherein he would bring the girls to a migrant worker camp, take cash from a migrant worker, hand the customer a condom, and whichever girl the customer chose would be made to have sex with the customer, typically on the concrete floor of a communal shower room.
Llerenas prostituted the girls against their will using force, threats, and coercion, all the while keeping the proceeds from the prostitution for himself. Both victims testified at trial about how Llerenas used manipulation, coercion, threats, and sometimes violence to cause them to engage in prostitution and to prevent them from reporting the offenses to authorities.
During the lengthy sentencing hearing that began on August 31, 2016 and concluded today, Senior Judge Shea recounted the basis for the jury’s four guilty verdicts against Llerenas and noted that the victims’ testimony, as well as the testimony of other witnesses, was thoroughly convincing. Judge Shea stated the Defendant “carried out a heartless plot to prostitute [the two victims] . . . so that he would benefit financially.” Judge Shea also found that Llerenas willfully obstructed justice when he offered “patently false” testimony on “all points of this case” and when Llerenas accused the victims of fabricating the charges against him. Judge Shea described Llerenas as “cunning” and stated that Llerenas’ testimony was flatly contradicted by the government’s witnesses and other evidence.
During the sentencing hearing, the two victims and members of the victims’ families were also able to address the Court and Llerenas, recounting the effect of Llerenas’ crimes and the need for a lengthy sentence. One victim noted the offense made her feel lost and like she had no control. She explained that she still is able to “remember it all so well.” The other victim explained she had to numb her feelings and set aside her emotions to get through the trafficking, but that she still holds in a lot of pain.
Michael C. Ormsby said “I commend the victims for their incredible courage in coming forward and testifying at great length in this case. The damage Llerenas caused the two victims for his own selfish benefit is immeasurable. The sentence handed down today reflects the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct. Federal, state, and local authorities will continue to investigate allegations of child exploitation and our office will continue to zealously prosecute those who sexually exploit minors and other vulnerable members of our society.”
The investigation of this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire and James A. Goeke, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington, as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
· Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
· Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
· Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
· Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
· Community awareness and educational programs.