Three Mexican nationals were indicted yesterday for sex trafficking and related crimes, according to an FBI release.

According to the 20-count indictment, Jesus Perez-Laguna, Guadalupe Reyes-Rivera a.k.a. “Mama Martina,” and Ciro Bustos-Rosales violated federal law by conspiring between November 2006 and March 2007 to bring Mexican women into South Carolina for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex. The indictment alleges that in at least one instance the victim was 14 years old.

If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of up to life in prison, and a combined fine of over $1 million.

Sen. Catherine Ceips, a Republican from my old stomping grounds in Beaufort, has been an advocate for increased penalties in sex trafficking cases.

“There’s been an education process,” she told me last year as legislation made it’s way through the Statehouse. “Everybody thinks it is a third-world problem.”

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