News: Women smuggled into U.S., forced into prostitution try to recoup $ 1M

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Subject: News: Women smuggled into U.S., forced into prostitution try to recoup $ 1M
From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Fri Apr 09 1999 - 17:08:50 EDT

Women smuggled into U.S., forced into prostitution try to recoup $ 1M

A week after Rogerio Cadena was ordered to pay $ 1 million in restitution
to 17 women he helped smuggle from Mexico and forced to be prostitutes in
cities throughout Florida, attorneys involved in the case are trying to
figure out how to collect the money on behalf of the victims.

The women, some as young as 14, were brought here by the Cadena family
thinking they would get jobs as nannies and housekeepers. Instead, they
were forced to service men every 15 minutes for 12 hours a day, six days a
week. The men were charged $ 20 for each encounter.

The women worked in squalid trailers across Florida, including Fort
Lauderdale, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and Okeechobee, as well
as in South Carolina and North Carolina. They were allowed to keep $ 3 from
each sexual encounter, out of which they had to pay a fee for being
smuggled into the United States and for room and board, said federal

The victims' working conditions and hours are what determined the amount of
the restitution. The $ 1 million would be the actual amount the women
worked under the pay system the Cadenas set up, said Holly Skolnick, an
attorney with Miami's Greenberg Traurig who represents 12 of the women. The
women are also are represented by attorneys for the Florida Immigrant
Advocacy Center.

The case, jointly prosecuted by the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.,
and the U.S. attorney's office in South Florida, has led to the creation of
a Justice Department task force to crack down on the exploitation of
illegal immigrants.

Depending on the length of a victim's captivity in the Cadena brothels,
which serviced migrant farm workers, the women would receive from $ 6,750
to $ 198,000 each, should the money ever be collected.

But that's a big "if."

Abe A. Bailey, the attorney for Cadena, doubted the girls would ever see
the money. "It's a fictitious award. They [the Cadena family] don't have
anything anyway," he said.

Still, Skolnick said, the victims will take the restitution order and seek
civil judgment in Mexico. The
restitution order is payable jointly by all the defendants, including six
who are in federal custody. An
additional five suspects are fugitives suspected of fleeing to Mexico.
Skolnick adds that restitution would
not violate laws against profiting from criminal enterprise, namely
prostitution, because the women were
unwilling victims instead of active criminal participants.

"Mr. Cadena is looking for a sentence reduction down the line," she said,
and added that there is hope Cadena will assist in identifying the Cadena
family's Mexican assets. In addition to the $ 1 million resitution
order, Cadena was also sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.

Meanwhile, the victims remain in South Florida, most of them working
legitimate jobs, but their immigration status is uncertain.

Their attorneys say the unwilling prostitutes are still terrified of
reprisals against their families in Mexico
and for themselves by the Cadena family.

None of the women showed up in court to see Cadena sentenced by U.S.
District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp in West Palm Beach, who described Cadena's
actions as "so utterly disgusting that it's hard to comprehend."

Melanie Orhant

Human Trafficking Program
Global Survival Network

P.O. Box 73214
Washington, DC 20009
T: 387-0028
F: 387-2590

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