HSI, Dominican authorities dismantle human trafficking ring

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - A joint law enforcement operation between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Dominican National Police and other Dominican law enforcement agencies led to the arrest of eight human traffickers and the rescue of 25 human trafficking victims Wednesday.

Those arrested, all Dominicans, allegedly located and recruited the victims for sexual exploitation and financial profit. The victims, also from the Dominican Republic, ranged in age from 14 to 17 years old, and were forced into prostitution in the Boca Chica area. Sixteen of the 25 victims were minors; 12 were girls and four were boys. All of the minors have been interviewed, and Dominican Child Services is providing care for them.

"It's unconscionable that human trafficking exists and that victims are being exploited in the most heinous of ways," said HSI Executive Associate Director Peter Edge. "HSI special agents working in the United States and abroad are committed to rooting out the criminal enterprises involved in these despicable criminal acts. These arrests reflect our bilateral commitment with the Dominican Republic to ensure that together we dismantle those who prey on the innocent."

Arrested individuals include: the organization leader Fidel Starlin Soriano Peguero, Edward Antonio Mota Madrigal, Francia Magali Malen, Cindy Massiel Troncoso, Fiorelis Jimenez, Ana Leidys Gonzalez Santana, Darlyn Massiel Troncoso and Emi Ramona Paredes Perez.

The Dominican Republic Attorney General's Human Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Unit is prosecuting the cases.

The public is encouraged to report suspected human trafficking by calling the ICE tip line toll-free at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.

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