Crime, Police/Fire

Baltimore County man sentenced to 27 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor

BALTIMORE, MD—A Baltimore County man has been sentenced to almost three decades in prison for sex trafficking of a minor.

U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander this week sentenced Feliciano de Jesus Diaz-Martinez, a/k/a Alex, 43, of Owings Mills, to 27 years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for sex trafficking of a child, enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution, sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and distribution of controlled substances. Diaz-Martinez, who has been in custody since his indictment on July 25, 2019, was convicted of those charges by a federal jury on November 18, 2021.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James R. Mancuso Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.

From at least 2016 through May 2019, Diaz-Martinez, a Guatemalan national in the United States illegally, caused at least eight individuals, including a minor, to engage in commercial sex acts for his own financial benefit by means of force, fraud, and coercion. Trial testimony confirmed that Diaz-Martinez knew that the victim was 16 years old when he first caused her to engage in commercial sex acts. The victim continued to work for Diaz-Martinez until she was approximately 18 years old. The evidence proved that nearly all of the victims that Diaz-Martinez caused to engage in commercial sex acts suffered from serious substance abuse disorders, including addictions to heroin, crack cocaine, and Xanax. Diaz-Martinez took half or all of the money earned by the victims working for him, and sold some of the victims narcotics, often at prices significantly higher than he paid to purchase the drugs.

As detailed in trial testimony, Diaz-Martinez maintained a network of friends and associates who paid to engage in commercial sex acts with the victims Diaz-Martinez advertised and made available to them. Diaz-Martinez sent his customers pictures of the victims available for commercial sex and set the prices that customers would pay to engage in sex acts with the victims he controlled. Diaz-Martinez then transported, or caused to be transported, victims to his customers’ homes, or to hotel rooms he rented, to engage in commercial sex acts. The evidence showed that Diaz-Martinez also invited customers to engage in commercial sex acts with victims in his apartment and in a storage unit that he rented.

Witnesses testified that Diaz-Martinez maintained several different accounts in alias names on a social media platform, which he used to recruit and communicate with the victims in order to entice them to work for him and engage in commercial sex acts, including many users he had never met. The jury found that Diaz-Martinez sometimes offered the users he communicated with heroin and crack cocaine, referred to as “boy” and “girl,” in exchange for engaging in commercial sex with his customers. Diaz-Martinez also directed the victims working for him to recruit their friends, many of whom were also addicted to narcotics, to engage in commercial sex for his financial benefit.

Several victims testified that Diaz-Martinez frequently demanded that they engage in sex acts with him, free of charge, and that he retaliated against the victims if he was not personally satisfied with the sexual encounter. Diaz-Martinez also retaliated against victims who violated his rules, failed to earn sufficient money from commercial sex, or otherwise displeased him in a number of ways, including, abandoning them at customers’ homes and on roadsides without their belongings or transportation and withholding drugs from the victims whom he knew to be addicted.

This case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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