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PRESS RELEASE: Virginia Man, Ismael Antonio Mendez, Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking 15-Year-Old Girl

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 18, 2016

Virginia Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking 15-Year-Old Girl

An Annandale, Virginia, man was sentenced today to 10 years in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release for sex trafficking of a minor.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant Director in Charge Paul M. Abbate of the FBI’s Washington Field Office and Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Chief of the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department, made the announcement.

Ismael Antonio Mendez, 20, pleaded guilty on Dec. 29, 2015, to sex trafficking of a minor. Mendez will be required to register as a sex offender.

In connection with his plea, Mendez admitted that from at least November 2014 through February 2015, he and two adult co-conspirators recruited a 15-year-old girl to engage in commercial sex acts to pay off a debt that Mendez owed to one of the co-conspirators. The adults taught the girl how to prostitute, took photos of her to use in ads and created commercial sex ads that were posted on the Internet, he admitted. Mendez admitted that the co-conspirators knew that the girl was a minor and instructed her to lie about her age to customers. According to Mendez’s plea, over a three-month period, the co-conspirators traveled with the girl throughout Virginia, in New York and every state in between for the purposes of advertising and engaging the girl in commercial sex. Mendez admitted that during that time period, the defendants prostituted the girl every day, with an average of 10 to 12 customers a night until she earned enough to repay Mendez’s debt, at which point she was directed to leave the co-conspirators.

Trial Attorney Lauren Britsch of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Dougherty Russell of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

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