For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWO PIMPS SENTENCED FOR TRAFFICKING VICTIM FROM MEXICO AND FORCING HER INTO PROSTITUTION IN ANAHEIM APARTMENT
SANTA ANA – Two pimps were sentenced today for trafficking a victim from Mexico to Orange County and forcing her to engage in prostitution to pay off a debt for an ill family member. Victor Lara Romero, 33, Anaheim, pleaded guilty June 4, 2014, to one felony count each of human trafficking and pimping and was sentenced today to five years in state prison. Gustavo Romero Clemente, 36, Anaheim, pleaded guilty June 4, 2014, to one felony count of pandering and was sentenced today to four years in state prison.
Circumstances of the Case
Romero and Clemente are pimps who exploit women and/or children for financial gain.
During a preliminary hearing, 29-year-old Jane Doe testified to the following: she became acquainted with Romero in her hometown in Mexico prior to December 2012. Romero gave her money when a family member became ill. A few weeks later, Jane Doe was unable to repay the money and Romero told her that he could smuggle her into the United States to work at a clothing store to pay off her debt. Romero then arranged for Jane Doe to be smuggled into Southern California by way of Texas.
Between Dec. 24, 2012, and Jan. 24, 2013, approximately one month after arriving in California, Romero moved Jane Doe into a room in Clemente’s Anaheim apartment. Once in Anaheim, instead of setting up a job for Jane Doe as he promised, Romero ordered Jane Doe to engage in commercial sex to repay the debt. When Jane Doe resisted and refused, Romero physically beat the victim on numerous occasions including strangling and punching her, burning her leg with a fork, and beating her with a belt. Romero caused bruising to Jane Doe’s face and forced her to wear makeup to cover the bruises.
Romero and Clemente isolated Jane Doe by limiting her to weekly or twice-weekly phone conversations with her family in Mexico and monitoring all of her calls. Clemente watched and guarded the victim while Romero was away to prevent her from leaving the apartment and escaping.
Romero obtained “clients” for Jane Doe and dictated the amount of money she would charge for various sex acts. Both defendants collected payment from the sex purchasers.
In January 2013, Jane Doe was able to call 911 using a cell phone left behind in the apartment by one of the defendants while Romero and Clemente were arguing outside of the apartment. The Anaheim Police Department (APD) responded to the scene, located the victim, and arrested the defendants.
Members of the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force (OCHTTF) and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by APD with the assistance of OCHTTF.