An illegal immigrant living in Taylor County is accused in federal court in Bowling Green of sex trafficking children in Taylor, Green, Adair and Barren counties.
Adulfo De Aquino-Cancino, 28, was charged in a four-count indictment with two counts of sex trafficking of children and one count each of conspiracy and coercion and enticement, according to the indictment.
De Aquino-Cancino is said in the indictment to have engaged in a conspiracy to recruit, entice and transport two underage girls to engage in commercial sex acts between August and January while knowing they had not reached the age of 18.
The indictment accuses him of using a cellphone to coerce and entice one of the girls to engage in prostitution.
De Aquino-Cancino was scheduled to have been arraigned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.
A criminal complaint in the case includes a five-page affidavit from Special Agent Theodore Curtis of the federal Department of Homeland Security’s Immigrations and Customs Enforcement division.
De Aquino-Cancino was arrested Jan. 19 by the Kentucky State Police Columbia Post following a monthlong investigation by KSP Detective Mike Dubree.
On that date, De Aquino-Cancino told Dubree that he knew several prostitutes in the Campbellsville area whom he would pick up and take to several locations for commercial sex acts with his friends. “The prostitutes would in turn pay Cancino for driving them to the locations,” the affidavit said.
De Aquino-Cancino identified two girls who participated in the prostitution operation and, when asked by Dubree, told the detective that he knew what he was doing was illegal, court records show.
Dubree interviewed a woman, referred to as “Jane Doe 1,” on Dec. 12 who told him that on Nov. 30, De Aquino-Cancino transported her and two minors referred to in the affidavit as “Juvenile 1” and “Juvenile 4” to a residence near Green County, where Juvenile 1 performed commercial sex acts with three men.
“Juvenile 1 and Jane Doe 1 were each paid $30 per encounter but Cancino took half,” the affidavit said.
Dubree interviewed Juvenile 1 on Dec. 12 and a second time with Curtis on Jan. 25.
During the second interview, the juvenile stated that she was recruited into prostitution during the autumn of 2011, telling police that De Aquino-Cancino would drive her to multiple locations to perform sex acts for money.
De Aquino-Cancino arranged the meetings between the girls and Hispanic men who were clients. Juvenile 1 said De Aquino-Cancino would send text messages to her from his cellphone asking if she wanted business, according to court records.
Juvenile 1 told authorities that De Aquino-Cancino knew that she was younger than 18 because she told De Aquino-Cancino that she was still in Spanish classes and he would help her with homework, the affidavit said.
Curtis and Dubree interviewed another woman, referred to in the affidavit as “Jane Doe 2,” on Jan. 25. Jane Doe 2 said she knew of Juvenile 1’s participation in the prostitution organization and provided her with a cellphone during the period of time the minor was involved.
In a Feb. 28 interview with authorities, Juvenile 1 said she became involved in the prostitution organization in August, and De Aquino-Cancino drove her to an unidentified location for her first encounter, for which De Aquino-Cancino charged $40 and paid the juvenile $30, the affidavit said.
The girl also spoke about a weekend in which De Aquino-Cancino took her to an apartment in Greensburg to have sex with two men and to a house in Columbia later that day where she had sex with two more men.
De Aquino-Cancino then drove the girl to his trailer, made food and gave her $30 of the $40 that each client paid, before driving the juvenile back to her house, according to the affidavit.
Police interviewed three unidentified women March 21. The women told police they were involved in the prostitution organization and said they knew that Juvenile 1 was a minor.
Two of the adults told police that Juvenile 1 was 15 years old, the affidavit said.
“Jane Doe 3 informed Cancino that Cancino could not use Juvenile 1 as a prostitute because Juvenile 1 was 15 years of age,” the affidavit stated. “Jane Doe 3 added that Cancino responded by saying ‘if she was old enough to bleed she was old enough to breed.’ ”
A federal grand jury in Bowling Green returned the indictment against De Aquino-Cancino on May 16 and the case was ordered unsealed two days later.
If convicted at trial, De Aquino-Cancino could end up receiving a sentence of life in prison and a maximum fine of $500,000. The mandatory minimum punishment on conviction is 10 years in prison.
A 2007 University of Kentucky study of human trafficking identified 69 different cases of trafficking in the state based on interviews with officials in the justice system, directors of domestic violence and rape crisis shelters and other individuals with interest, knowledge or experience about the issue.
The study characterized trafficking victims as vulnerable to exploitation due to being poverty-stricken and desiring to better their lives or being undocumented immigrants with limited English skills and little knowledge of who to turn to for help.
“The experience of being trafficked means that individuals often endure extended periods of time under considerable fear and anxiety which cause extreme suffering both physically and emotionally and make the immediate and long-term needs of victims expansive,” the study said.
Victims are often isolated economically and socially and find themselves reliant on money from trafficking to address many of their living concerns.
“The isolation that probably contributed to vulnerability to being trafficked as well as contributed to keeping victims under control of the traffickers remains problematic once victims are identified,” the UK study said. “These victims have nobody to help or support them in any way which increases their dependence on service agencies.”
Federally funded task forces opened 2,515 investigations into human trafficking nationwide between January 2008 and June 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Of those investigations, 82 percent were classified as sex trafficking, with more than 1,000 incidents involving allegations of child prostitution.
Investigations that confirmed human trafficking in that time period led to 144 arrests, according to the justice department.