In recent news in Wheaton, Maryland, it is reported that an MS-13 gang associate is being tied to a sex trafficking case involving a 14-year-old girl.
MS-13 is an international crime gang that began in California in the ’70s and ’80s and spread throughout the years. Felix Silva-Zuniga is accused of having sex with the minor and then extorting more sex by threatening to expose a video of the first encounter.
Upon arrests made in a different case, a confidential informant, who is also an MS-13 affiliate, confessed that a lot of money was made from sex trafficking this minor female, as well as others like her. He admits that at one time she wanted to quit. She was summons to a home where she was hit 25 times with a baseball bat to change her mind. The victim admits that she only had repeat encounters with Siva-Zuniga because she feared being beaten, again, if she refused future services.
Police arrested Siva-Zuniga as he performed day work at a hardware store. He admitted to paying the minor for sexual intercourse but denied taking any video. In search of his home, police found a lot of illegal video footage, including the video involving the victim. He is facing 47 years in prison and deportation because it is believed that he is in America illegally.
Sex Trafficking In America
Sex trafficking is a growing crime in America. Many cities are now expanding their police departments to include entire divisions dedicated to handling the ever-growing caseload. No one is immune to becoming victims of this horrendous crime, and everyone needs to be aware of to what degree it exists.
What is Sex Trafficking?
Sex trafficking is forcing a man, woman, or child, through force, fraud, or coercion, to participate in sex acts for money. According to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2018, the legal definition of human trafficking is “recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of an individual through the means of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of commercial sex.” However, minors who participate in commercial sex are automatically considered victims of sex trafficking regardless of whether or not coercion, threat, or force exists.
Who are the Victims?
While men, women, and children can all find themselves in danger of becoming sex trafficking victims, women and children create the majority. Most often, victims are forced into sex trafficking through manipulation and control by someone they already know. Common examples include:
- A parent
- A romantic partner
- A trusted friend
Runaway children are also very susceptible to becoming victims of this crime. It was reported that approximately 1 in 7 runaway children become victims of commercial sex slavery.
Do You Need an Experienced Human Trafficking Lawyer?
If you are a victim of sex trafficking we can help you. Here at KBA Attorneys, we have years of experience and have helped many victims on their journeys to justice. Call us today for a free case evaluation.