San Jose, California - Ariel Guizar-Cuellar pleaded guilty in federal court in San Jose Tuesday to sex trafficking of children and sexual exploitation of children, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. The Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Judge, accepted the plea.

In pleading guilty, Guizar-Cuellar, 38, of San Jose, admitted that from approximately September of 2014 until approximately January of 2016, he and various co-conspirators operated an unlawful commercial sex venture in San Jose and Santa Clara that sold the sexual services of adult women and at least three minor girls.

Guizar-Cuellar was the leader, primary facilitator, enforcer, and main financial beneficiary of the unlawful commercial sex venture.  He recruited the minors through social media networks.  He took pictures of the minors and caused those pictures to be posted in online advertisements for their sexual services on “”  He transported the minors to various hotels and motels in the Bay Area to facilitate their prostitution dates with adult customers.  He provided condoms for the minors to use during their prostitution dates and collected money from the minors after their dates.  He also admitted that he made a recording of one of the minors engaging in sexual activity during a prostitution date in Sunnyvale and gave methamphetamine to some of the minors to entice them to continue working for him.  He specifically told the minors to conceal their true ages.

On April 7, 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Guizar-Cuellar charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; three counts of sex trafficking of children, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1) and (b) as to each minor victim; and one count of sexual exploitation of children, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a) and (e).  Guizar-Cuellar pleaded guilty to all counts charged in the indictment.

Guizar-Cuellar is currently in federal custody awaiting sentencing.  Judge Freeman scheduled his sentencing hearing for October 22, 2019.  The maximum statutory penalty for each violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591 is life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. The maximum statutory penalty for child exploitation is 30 years, with a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison.  The maximum prison term for the conspiracy charge is five years in prison. Restitution is mandatory to all victims of sex trafficking.  However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marissa Harris is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Tong Zhang.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, the San Jose Police Department, and the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Task Force.