A man linked to a human trafficking network accused of luring young Cuban women to Ecuador and forcing them to work as prostitutes has been deported to the South American country by personnel of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in New Orleans, La., the agency said last week.
Melian Yoeldis Mastrapa, 29, is the latest member of a group of eight Cubans linked to the alleged trafficking network that investigators say operated in Ecuador. The network was discovered in December 2013 as a result of a joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), an ICE unit, and the Ecuadorian government.
According to an arrest warrant issued by Interpol, between October 17, 2013, and April 9, 2014, Melian Mastrapa and his alleged accomplices recruited and transported Cuban women to Ecuador. Once there, the women were threatened with retaliation if they refused to work as prostitutes.
The eight individuals fled to the United States in an attempt to avoid criminal prosecution in Ecuador. Five of the fugitives were arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers after they tried to enter the United States through the Mexican border. They were then transferred to ICE for deportation. The remaining three fugitives apparently managed to enter the United States but were later arrested by immigration agents. The ICE statement does not say where they were detained.
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If convicted, Melian Mastrapa may be sentenced to up to 16 years in prison in Ecuador, according to ICE.
To date, ICE has sent to Ecuador five of the eight Cubans. Among these were Alay Wong Herrera and Juan Carlos Rodriguez de la Osa, who have already been convicted and sentenced in Ecuador to 10 years in prison, respectively. Also previously deported were Roberto Izaguirre and Luis Campos Aguila. Both are in Ecuador in criminal proceedings.
The remaining three – Boris Santana Rodriguez, Camilo Fonseca Remón Rodríguez Garrido and Rosali –are in ICE custody and awaiting transfer to Ecuador.
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