SAN JOSE (BCN) — A federal judge in San Jose sentenced a man convicted in a child sex trafficking scheme to more than 38 years in prison, according to an announcement Thursday from U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds and the FBI.

Ariel Guizar-Cuellar, 41, of San Jose, was sentenced to 460 months in prison in connection with multiple charges for his role in a Bay Area conspiracy to exploit children for pornography and sex trafficking. He is one of four people convicted in the scheme.

The judge also sentenced Araceli Mendoza, 30, to 10 years in prison, following a guilty jury verdict Oct. 21, 2021, for her role in the conspiracy and for the sex trafficking of one minor victim. Guizar-Cuellar pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy, as did two other defendants, Jocelyn Contreras, 29, of Redwood City, and Alyssa Anthony, 30, of Gilroy.

Contreras and Anthony are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 8. According to the defendants’ guilty pleas and the evidence submitted at Mendoza’s trial, Guizar-Cuellar was the leader, primary facilitator, enforcer and main financial beneficiary of the operation.

Guizar-Cuellar admitted that over a 16-month period, he and the other three defendants established and operated an illegal prostitution enterprise that exploited numerous women and children, according to prosecutors’ announcement. Guizar-Cuellar acknowledged in his plea agreement that he and the other defendants operated a commercial sex venture and recruited, enticed, harbored and transported several girls to work as prostitutes and exotic dancers.

Guizar-Cuellar rented rooms at various hotels and motels in San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale for prostitution activities and told the captive girls not to tell anyone that they were minors. The youngest of the victims recruited into the prostitution enterprise were 15 years old at the time.

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Prosecutors said in the announcement that “the victims were shuttled daily throughout the Bay Area and were isolated from their families and support systems; deprived of food and sleep; and given cocaine, alcohol and other substances to keep them compliant. They were deliberately supplied methamphetamine to keep them awake so they could meet nightly profit quotas.”

A federal grand jury indicted all four defendants on April 7, 2016, on May 7, 2019, Guizar-Cuellar pleaded guilty to all the charges. In addition to their prison terms, the judge ordered Guizar-Cuellar and Mendoza to serve terms of supervised release and to pay restitution to their victims.

Guizar-Cuellar remains in federal custody and the judge ordered Mendoza to self-surrender to the Bureau of Prisons in January 2023.

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