published Friday, November 16th, 2012

Man guilty in case of human smuggling

A federal jury found a 40-year-old man guilty of smuggling his 16-year-old cousin to the United States from Guatemala for sex.

German Rolando Vicente-Sapon was found guilty Thursday of importation of an alien for immoral purposes; coercion or enticement of a female; and coercion or enticement of a minor female.

He is scheduled to be sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier on Feb. 21, 2013. He faces a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.

"This case is an example of how aggressively the U.S. attorney's office and Homeland Security investigations will take on the growing problem of human trafficking," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Woods.

Vicente-Sapon was being held for deportation in August when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents discovered a restraining order from the Hamilton County Department of Children's Services against him in Chancery Court.

Agents interviewed a 23-year-old woman who told them that, in 2006 when she was 16 and living in Guatemala, her mother and father tried to force her to marry a much older man. She refused.

It is Times Free Press policy not to publish names of sex-crime victims.

According to court documents, Vicente-Sapon convinced her over the phone to come to the United States. He said "she could have a better life and she would be able to earn money" to send back to her mother, who had diabetes. He later told police he paid $5,000 to have her smuggled into the country.

The day she arrived, Vicente-Sapon demanded sex, the court documents state. The young woman at first resisted but eventually relented because she "felt that she had no other choice since she had nowhere to go, did not know anyone in the area," the documents state.

Vicente-Sapon impregnated the teenager. He told police he knew how old she was but that the relationship was consensual and they did not marry but lived together until his recent detention.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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