Appeal from judgments of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Frederic Block, District Judge) convicting defendants, following their guilty pleas, of sex trafficking crimes. Defendants contend, inter alia, that the district court abused its discretion in denying their motions to withdraw their guilty pleas and imposed sentences that were excessive and based on improper considerations. Alonso also contends that the district court improperly denied his motion for substitute counsel.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Chin, District Judge
Before: PARKER and LIVINGSTON, Circuit Judges, and CHIN,*fn1 District Judge.
On April 5, 2005, defendants-appellants Josue Flores Carreto ("J. Carreto"), Gerardo Flores Carreto ("G. Carreto"), and Daniel Perez Alonso ("Alonso") pled guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and related crimes. Defendants did so two months after they had rejected the Government's global plea offer and just a few minutes before the start of their trial.
Concerned with the timing of defendants' plea, the district court conducted a thorough allocution and accepted their pleas only after it was satisfied that defendants were pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily.
Approximately one year later, as they were about to be sentenced, defendants moved to withdraw their guilty pleas. The district court denied the motions to withdraw and sentenced J. Carreto and G. Carreto principally to 50 years' imprisonment each and Alonso principally to 25 years' imprisonment.
Defendants appeal their convictions on several grounds. For the reasons that follow, the judgments of the district court are affirmed.
From approximately 1992 until their arrests in 2004, defendants operated a prostitution ring that smuggled Mexican women into the United States and forced them into prostitution. Defendants used violence, manipulation, and threats of physical restriction to control their victims. Defendants purposefully seduced women, including some who were under eighteen years of age, and many of whom were, according to the Government, poor and uneducated.
The victims were forced to prostitute themselves in brothels in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan nearly every day. Defendants profited financially from the prostitution activities, and the victims were not allowed to keep the money they earned.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested defendants on January 5, 2004, when they raided apartments in Queens, New York. Four victims were found in the apartments.
On November 16, 2004, a grand jury returned a 27-count superseding indictment against defendants. The Government thereafter extended plea offers to defendants, giving them the opportunity to plead guilty to certain crimes in satisfaction of all the charged crimes. The final offer was ...