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San Jose child sex trafficker sentenced to nearly 40 years in federal prison

PIX Now 11:11

SAN JOSE – A San Jose man who was convicted in a child sex trafficking scheme has been sentenced to more than 38 years in prison, federal officials said.

According to Northern California U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Tripp, 41-year-old Ariel Guizar-Cuellar was sentenced to 460 months in federal prison.

Guizar-Cuellar pleaded guilty in 2019 to charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, three counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of sexual exploitation of children.

Prosecutors said Guizar-Cuellar was the leader of the sex trafficking operation, which involved at least three other defendants and took place over a 16-month span before they were charged in 2016.

According to his plea agreement, Guizar-Cuellar admitted to recruiting and harboring several minors to work as prostitutes and exotic dancers and rented rooms at various hotels and motels in San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale. The youngest of the victims recruited was 15-years-old at the time.

During the scheme, prosecutors said Guizar-Cuellar subjected both the child victims and female co-defendants to physical and sexual abuse.

"They were isolated from their families and support systems; deprived of food and sleep; and given cocaine, alcohol, and other substances to keep them compliant," Hinds' office said in a statement describing what happened to the victims. "They were deliberately supplied methamphetamine to keep them awake so they could meet nightly profit quotas."

One of Guizar-Cuellar's co-defendants, 30-year-old Araceli Mendoza of San Jose, was also sentenced Thursday to 10 years in federal prison for her role in the same conspiracy. A jury convicted Mendoza last year on charges of conspiracy and one count of child sex trafficking.

Along with the prison terms, Guizar-Cuellar and Mendoza have been ordered to serve terms to supervised release and to pay restitution to their victims. Guizar-Cuellar is in custody while Mendoza was ordered to surrender to begin her prison term in January.

Two other co-defendants, 29-year-old Jocelyn Contreras of Redwood City and 30-year-old Alyssa Anthony of Gilroy, have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme. The pair are scheduled to be sentenced on November 8.

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