Crime

Man sentenced to 15 years in federal sex-trafficking case

Marco Antonio Flores-Benitez, thought to be the first person in Kentucky convicted of federal sex trafficking charges, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison, according to a news release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney.

Flores-Benitez was part of an interstate prostitution ring in Lexington that was busted in November by FBI agents and police. Flores-Benitez has been described in court documents as "somewhat of a leader" in the operation, which rotated prostitutes through several states.

Spanish-speaking women were lured with the promise of legitimate work but were forced or persuaded to perform sex acts for money instead, investigators and court documents have said.

Flores-Benitez, 38; Roxana Serna-Olea, 36; Adrian Lezama-Ruiz, 26; and Roberto Salin as-Rivera, 35, were indicted in federal court in March. All have since pleaded guilty, although only Flores-Benitez pleaded guilty to a charged related to human trafficking.

Lezama-Ruiz and Salinas-Rivera are awaiting sentencing on charges that they persuaded women to engage in prostitution, according to the news release. Serna-Olea was sentenced Wednesday to nearly four years on a persuasion charge.

Court documents have said clients paid $30 for 15 minutes of sexual activity, and the women were expected by their "handlers" to have sex with multiple customers a day.

Some of the defendants drove and delivered the prostitutes to customers in Fayette, Woodford, Oldham and Jefferson counties. They also operated a brothel at Cross Keys Drive in Lexington, the news release said.

The women wouldn't stay in one place long; they were rotated to cities including Indianapolis, Nashville and Atlanta, investigators have said.

Under federal sentencing laws, the defendants will have to serve 85 percent of their prison sentences.

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