Contributed By Roy Denish
Nicknamed as “murder” and “blue,” a 24-year-old man affiliated to the dreaded MS-13 gang was sentenced to 50 years in prison for conscripting as young as 14-year-olds from schools and homeless shelters to employ them as sex slaves.
Rances Ulices Amaya “killed the hopes and dreams of young girls whom he systematically and sadistically victimized,” said the US attorney general Niel MacBride, an FBI News Release said.
Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga.
“Rances Amaya’s gang name was ‘Murder,’ and in a real sense, he killed the hopes and dreams of teenage girls whom he systematically and sadistically victimized,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “He told these girls that he owned them and that he would hurt their loved ones if they didn’t comply. They were his sex slaves, and that slavery goes to the heart of the heinous crime of sex trafficking. These girls have traumatic scars that will last a lifetime, and Mr. Amaya is justly going to spend the rest of his productive life paying for his crimes.”
“Today’s sentencing demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement and the judicial system to combat juvenile prostitution and human trafficking in Northern Virginia,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Together with our partner agencies, we will continue to pursue individuals such as Mr. Amaya who ruthlessly exploit[ed] vulnerable young girls for sex and money.”
Amaya was convicted by a jury on February 23, 2012 of conspiracy and three counts of sex trafficking of a child. According to court records and evidence at trial, Amaya joined MS-13 when he was a teenager and later became a “shot caller” for his MS-13 clique, the Guanacos Lokotes Salvatruchas. MS-13 gave him the gang monikers “Murder” and “Blue,” and he bears multiple MS-13 tattoos on his hands and arms.
In 2009, Amaya joined forces with an MS-13 associate who was already prostituting underage girls. Amaya used the violent reputation of MS-13 to ensure that sex customers paid for the sex and did not lure the underage victims away. He also used his MS-13 contacts to find sex customers and would offer free sex with the victims and a cut of the profits for any gang member who provided customers or underage girls. Amaya and his co-conspirator sought out illegal aliens as customers because they believed illegal aliens were unlikely to call the police. Amaya would hand out his telephone number at construction sites and convenience stores frequented by day laborers from Latin America.
Victims were required to have sex with eight to 10 paying customers per day, sometimes seven days per week. Some of the customers were sex addicts and repeat customers who paid daily for the sex. At night, after the paying customers were finished, Amaya would invite his fellow MS-13 members to have sex with the girls. Sometimes, to punish victims, the gang would “run a train” on a victim, which meant that multiple gang members would have sex with the victim in rapid succession. Amaya and other gang members also raped the victims both for their enjoyment and to “groom” them for the sex trafficking scheme.
Besides raping them to keep the victims compliant, Amaya would provide them with cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. The evidence showed that Amaya prostituted five victims who were between the ages of 14 and 17 years old. The jury heard that using underage girls had two advantages: customers preferred young girls, and Amaya found them easier to manipulate and control. In addition, there was always an implicit threat of violence insofar as the victims knew that Amaya was MS-13, and he frequently carried a machete with him, MS-13’s weapon of choice. Amaya also struck at least one of the victims in the face.
The sex acts took place at motels, hotels, houses, apartments and cars in Washington, D.C. and the Northern Virginia area. In particular, Amaya frequented a few hotels in Falls Church, Virginia, and many of the customers were solicited from convenience stores in the Culmore and Chirilagua neighborhoods of Northern Virginia.
Amaya charged between $30 and $120 for about 20 minutes of sex with the victims. Customers were required to pay more for “unusual” sex acts. The proceeds of the prostitution were used to purchase narcotics, alcoholic beverages, and to support MS-13 in the United States and El Salvador.
Amaya is the fourth MS-13 member to be convicted of sex trafficking children in the Eastern District of Virginia.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Fairfax County Gang Unit, with assistance from the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Frank are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Founded in 2004, the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force is a collaboration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies—along with non-governmental organizations—dedicated to combating human trafficking and related crimes.