HARRISONBURG — A Harrisonburg man charged in connection with to a sex-trafficking ring pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg.
Mario Ramirez-Larios, also known as "Tony," "Tono" and "Paisa," 45, was charged with conspiracy to coerce and transport women for prostitution, transporting for prostitution and aiding and abetting transporting for prostitution.
As part of a plea deal, Ramirez-Larios entered a guilty plea to coercing and transporting women for prostitution.
Judge Michael Urbanski scheduled him to be sentenced on July 23. Ramirez-Larios faces up to 20 years in prison.
He is one of four charged in a sex-trafficking ring that included a brothel in Harrisonburg. The other three are Iris Zenit Ayuso-Storer, also known as Yacaris Frias De Los Santos and "Tacha," 35, of Harrisburg, Pa., Elin Naun Coello-Ordonez and Kevin Alain Coello-Galeano. The ages and addresses of the latter two are unknown.
Ayuso-Storer is scheduled to pleaded guilty today. Coello-Galeano’s role in the operation is unclear.
The 17-count indictment states that Ramirez-Larios would recruit females to work as prostitutes in brothels in Maryland, Pennsylvania and western Virginia. The brothels would largely cater to members of the Hispanic community, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors allege Coello-Ordonez was the ringleader.
"Coello-Ordonez has through force, threat of force, or coercion made his girlfriend ... perform sexual acts for a fee to customers and personally gained from this illegal enterprise," the affidavit states. "Coello-Ordonez brought [his girlfriend] into the United States illegally in August 2010 under the false promise of helping her obtain a legitimate job."
The investigation began in July 2011 when police responded to several 911 calls from a home at 601 N. Liberty St. Police have made multiple arrests for prostitution in the 600 to 900 blocks of North Liberty Street since 2005.
Police say a woman told them that Coello-Ordonez would take her to work in brothels in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, as well as in Harrisburg, Pa., Scranton, Pa., and Hyattsville, Md.
Police arrested the prostitute and doorman and brought down the ring during an undercover operation at the brothel in Harrisonburg.
Contact Pete DeLea at 574-6278 or firstname.lastname@example.org