A San Diego jury on Jan. 7 found an illegal immigrant guilty of federal charges relating to supplying prostitutes to North County migrant camps.
Adrian Zitlapopoca-Hernandez was convicted of two counts each of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion and nine other charges relating to a prostitution ring he started in 2008. The charges carry a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege Zitlapopoca manipulated two women he had relationships with in Mexico into prostitution. Both victims are at least 10 years younger than him. Anabel De la Cruz-Ramirez and Florencia Calixto-Velasco both admitted to police that they both worked as prostitutes for Zitlapopoca, court documents state.
De la Cruz said she began dating the defendant in 2006 when she was 18, according to court documents. Over the course of their relationship, she said she was assaulted physically and mentally by Zitlapopoca.
She told police she worked as a prostitute in North County at various canyons, apartments and ranches, court records state. De la Cruz said she was paid by the defendant $10 for each night she worked as a prostitute.
Calixto, who was 17, when she met the defendant in 2004 at a bus station in Oaxaca, Mexico, described a similar set of circumstances relating to her relationship with Zitlapopoca.
She said she worked every night and made $200 to $1,000 an evening, which she gave to Zitlapopoca, according to court records.
Prior to coming to America, both girls said they worked as prostitutes in Mexico under the defendant, court records state. They said their careers as prostitutes started shortly after they met the defendant and he coerced them into it. He had told the women he had planned on marrying them.
De la Cruz told authorities she kept working as prostitute because she thought she was in love, didn’t have anywhere else to go, and didn’t want to face the shame associated with a failed relationship, according to court documents.
Authorities arrested Zitlapopoca on Nov. 20, 2008, in an area in Valley Center known for prostitution activity. De la Cruz and Calixto were his passengers.
The women lived in different residences in Vista; they were also in the country illegally.
Zitlapopoca had been deported to Mexico in 2004.
Two other men accused of having ties to the prostitution ring pleaded guilty in November to harboring illegal immigrants for the purposes of prostitution, court records state.
They each face up to 10 years in prison and are expected to be sentenced in April with Zitlapopoca.