June 12, 2013 – Long Island, NY
Antonio Rivera, a former bar owner in Farmingville (Long Island), New York, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for sex trafficking and forced labor charges. Rivera’s co-defendants, John Whaley and Jason Villaman, were sentenced to 25 and 30 years, respectively.
The government’s evidence at trial established that the defendants and others recruited, hired, and harbored in the United States scores of undocumented Latin American immigrants to work as waitresses in Rivera’s bars. The women had come to the United States from Honduras, Guatelmala, Mexico, and El Salvador. Rivera placed ads and flyers seeking waitresses in Spanish language newspapers and at local businesses frequented by Spanish-speaking immigrants. After the women agreed to work as waitresses, Rivera directed them to solicit patrons to buy them alcoholic beverages, which the women were required to consume, and eventually forced them to engage in sexual acts with the patrons in exchange for money, which Rivera kept. Several witnesses testified that Rivera and others used violence, including rapes and beatings, as well as fraud and threats of deportation to compel the victims to continue to work for him and to prevent them from reporting the illegal activity to police.