Sex Traffickers Calero and Flores sentenced to long prison terms
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Sex Traffickers Calero and Flores sentenced to long prison terms

sex trafficking, goldlaw, spencer kuvin, calero, fortes, TVPA

GOLDLAW first commented about this case in August, 2023:

Victims may have case in Human Trafficking Operation

Calero, Flores receive stiff sentences for Sex Trafficking

The man and woman accused of trafficking two local teenagers, who both plead guilty to federal charges in January, 2023, were both sentenced to significant prison terms on Tuesday, April 2nd.

U.S. District Judge Robin L. Rosenberg imposed a sentence of 16 years and 8 months on Maria Barrios Calero, and 9 years for Ricardo Tobon Flores at the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach. Rosenberg also ordered that both be placed on 15 years of probation at the end of their sentences.

Arrests came after tips from motel employees

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested both Calero and Flores in August, 2023, after an employee at the Lago Motor Inn in South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach entered a room where he observed a man on a bed with two girls who appeared to be under the age of 18. Their young appearance was a red flag to the employee, who immediately called law enforcement.

After arriving at the motel, deputies arrested a pair of individuals. Alleging that Ricardo Flores paid the girls $200 each for sexual favors, he was arrested in two counts of human trafficking. Deputies also arrested a female, Maria Barrios Calero, alleging that she arranged a “date” between Flores and the girls.

Prosecutors requested longer sentence for Calero

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gergory Schiller sought a stiffer penalty against Calero. She has been described as the organizer of the human-trafficking operation, and it was also noted that she was free on bond at the time of her Florida arrest for a case in Texas where she was accused of conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants. Schiller also asked the judge to depart from sentencing Flores to the minimum guideline of 10 years, due to his cooperation with authorities and testifying against Calero.

Defendant described as “broken” by U.S. Attorney

Schiller described Calero as “broken” in asking the court to impose the maximum penalty. “She has no respect for the laws of our country, and it’s time that she is sentenced appropriately to understand what that means,” said Schiller, while issuing a sentence recommendation. Calero faced a maximum of 24 years and 5 months behind bars. Federal Public Defender Scott Berry requested a maximum sentence of 15 years, citing sentences imposed on defendants facing similar charges.

Kuvin: Another victory for law enforcement, TVPA

GOLDLAW’s Chief Legal Officer, Spencer Kuvin, who has represented countless victims of sex-trafficking and sexual assault, including women terrorized by Jeffrey Epstein and Bill Cosby, said the fact that both Calero and Flores plead guilty is a sign the justice system is working for victims of sex-trafficking:

“When traffickers plead out, it goes without saying that potential penalties provided by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) played a huge role in that decision by the defendants and their legal representation. Going to trial, and the jury bringing back a guilty verdict, would almost guarantee a life sentence for someone convicted of sex trafficking. Challenges still exist, but overall, the TVPA stands as an effective pillar, empowering attorneys to navigate the vast complexities of these cases and champion the rights of victims, by providing the legislative foundation that allows victims to get the justice they deserve.”