Local & Regional
5:08 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Sex Traffickers Sentenced

The leadership structure of the trafficking ring broken in Operation poker Chip.
The leadership structure of the trafficking ring broken in Operation poker Chip.
Credit KWGS News

Leaders of a major human trafficking ring which operated partly in Tulsa are sentenced in U.S. District Court.

A victim of the ring contacted law enforcement in January of 2012, which eventually led to seven federal prosecutions.

She contacted law enforcement while she was in Houston, and Homeland Security Investigations began work on the case.

She was moved to Tulsa by the traffickers shortly thereafter. She was able to discover her address from a piece of mail she found in the apartment, and was able to get the information to HIS, which, along with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, executed a search warrant for the location, rescued the victim, and arrested two of the traffickers.

The case is known as “Operation Poker Chip” because the operators used poker chips to keep track of services rendered.

Agencies that participated in the investigation include U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the IRS’s Criminal Investigation unit, and the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

U.S. Northern District Attorney Danny Williams says this is the first major human trafficking prosecution of this nature for Oklahoma.

“In this case it was forced labor in the most despicable kind, forced and coerced sex and sex acts,” Williams said.

“This is just an example of how far ranging these cases can be,” Williams said, “from city to city, state to state, I believe that it is an enormous problem.”

IRS involvement in the investigation resulted in approximately $600,000 in revenue from the ring being seized from the perpetrators. The money will go to local law enforcement agencies.

“Considering this is the first human trafficking case here in Tulsa,” said Madie Branch with IRS Criminal Investigation, “I would definitely consider that significant.”

Here is a list of those sentenced by U.S. District Judge James H. Payne over the last two days in this case:

·        Juan Rosales Garza, age 41, received 135 months in prison, restitution payments of $18,340 and $3,780 jointly with other defendants

·        Sermaias Samuel Sanchez Ajin, age 41, received approximately 13 months in prison, join restitution of $3,780

·        Antonio Felix Velasquez-Lopez, age 29, received 87 months in prison, restitution payments of $1,530

·        Israel Velasquez-Ramirez, age 31, received 18 months in prison, $420 restitution

·        Piedad Garcia, age 51, received 24 months in prison, $6,580 in restitution payments, and a $200,000 money judgment

·        Gloria N. Giammalva, received 21 months in prison, joint restitution payments of $18,340 and $3,780

Each received a $100 special monetary assessment.

A seventh defendant, Ignacio Ijom-Brito, pled guilty in December and received 14 months in prison.