In Chattanooga, man gets 15 years for smuggling 16-year-old girl to U.S. for arranged marriage

A 41-year-old Guatemala man faces 15 years in prison for bringing a 16-year-old girl to the United States for an arranged marriage.

German Rolando Vicente-Sapon was found guilty of smuggling the girl after a three-day trial here in November and sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier.

Prosecutor Jay Woods showed the jury through witness testimony that in 2006, Vincente-Sapon paid $2,000 for the girl to come to this country.

Her parents exhorted her to marry the much-older man, and she refused.

Later he convinced her that "she could have a better life and she would be able to earn money" to send to her family in Guatemala.

The day she arrived in the United States and met Vincente-Sapon, he demanded sex. She first resisted but later relented, she told investigators, because "she had no other choice since she had nowhere to go" and didn't know anyone in the area.

The girl bore a child from their ongoing relationship, which she said was consensual, though they never married but lived together.

It is Times Free Press policy not to name the victims of sex crimes.

Vicente-Sapon was being held for deportation in August when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents found a restraining order against him that had been filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court. That document triggered the subsequent investigation.

At the time of the verdict, Woods said that the case was an example of how "aggressively the U.S. attorney's office and Homeland Security" will treat the problem of human trafficking.

Contact staff writer Todd South at 423-757-7347 or