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Cuban Human Trafficker Deported by ICE; Blue Campaign Extended to South Carolina

A Cuban national linked to a human trafficking ring allegedly responsible for trafficking Cuban women to Ecuador and forcing them into prostitution was removed last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations officers from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new partnership between the DHS Blue Campaign – the unified voice for DHS’s efforts to combat human trafficking – and the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General. The DHS Blue Campaign works in collaboration with law enforcement, government, non-governmental and private organizations to protect the basic right of freedom and to bring those who exploit human lives to justice.

Yoeldis Melian-Mastrapa, 29, was the latest removal among eight Cuban nationals implicated in a human trafficking ring that allegedly operated in Ecuador. The ring was discovered in December 2013 as a result of a joint investigation between ICE Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Attaché Office in Ecuador and the Ecuadorian government.

According to an INTERPOL warrant, between October 17, 2013, and April 9, 2014, Melian-Mastrapa and his co-conspirators recruited and arranged for the transportation of Cuban women to Ecuador. Once in Ecuador, the women were threatened if they refused to work as prostitutes.

All eight individuals fled to the United States in an attempt to avoid prosecution in Ecuador. Five of the fugitives were arrested by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when they attempted to reenter the United States at the southern border. They were later transferred to ERO custody for removal proceedings. The remaining three fugitives were located and arrested by ERO officers.

According to ICE, “To date, through the work of ICE ERO and HSI, five of the eight Cubans wanted in Ecuador have been successfully removed to Ecuador. Among them was Alay Wong-Herrera and Juan Carlos Rodriguez-De la Osa, who were linked to the ring, and who have already been convicted and sentenced in Ecuador to 10 years imprisonment, respectively. Also previously removed were Roberto Izaguirre and Luis Campos-Aguila. Both are in Ecuador awaiting the outcome of their criminal cases.”

The three remaining fugitives – Boris Santana-Rodriguez, Camilo Fonseca-Garrido and Rosali Rodriguez-Remon – are in ICE custody awaiting deportation to Ecuador.

“Human trafficking is modern day slavery and we will not rest until those who profit from it are brought to justice,” said ICE Director Sarah Saldaña. “I congratulate the men and women of ERO and HSI for their unrelenting commitment to ensuring that these individuals face justice.”

Through ICE’s Office of International Affairs and the Department of State, Homeland Security HSI has 63 attaché offices in 46 countries around the world. HSI special agents and ERO officers work closely with foreign law enforcement agencies and through a robust network of specialized, vetted unitsknown as Transnational Criminal Investigative Units.

For the most up-to-date ICE information, sign up for ICE email alerts.

Through DHS’s new partnership with South Carolina’s Attorney General, DHS will provide Blue Campaign training and awareness materials throughout the state to raise public consciousness of human trafficking. These materials will help individuals and communities recognize indicators of human trafficking as well as provide information on how to report suspected cases.

“The DHS Blue Campaign welcomes the South Carolina Office of the Attorney General as a partner in the fight against human trafficking,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “Working with state and local governments across the country helps save lives and protect innocent people, and we are pleased that the State of South Carolina is fully embracing this effort.”

“Combating human trafficking and raising public awareness requires a joint effort by all who are involved,” said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson. “That is why the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General is happy to be working with the Department of Homeland Security to inform the public and support the victims of this horrible crime.”

DHS said in its announcement that, “The partnership will help South Carolina implement newly-passed legislation in the state, requiring several types of businesses and establishments within the state, including emergency rooms, urgent care centers, hotels, airports, train and bus stations, adult businesses, rest areas and truck stops, to publicly post information for possible victims of human trafficking.”

Earlier this month, DHS announced the expansion of the DHS Blue Campaign’s public awareness efforts to major airports, truck stops and motorist gas stations across the country to better enable Americans to recognize and report potential instances of human trafficking.

In June, the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Labor announced Phase II of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team Initiative, a strategic plan to develop high-impact federal investigations and prosecutions of suspected human traffickers.

Last year, DHS also established partnerships with the City of Phoenix and the Arizona Human Trafficking Council of the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families to provide training and awareness materials ahead of Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015.

For more information, visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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