Woman files sex trafficking lawsuit citing police officers as clients.
A woman has filed a lawsuit, listed only as “Jane Doe,” against the Fairfax, Virginia, police claiming she was sex trafficked after being brought from Costa Rica to the U.S. and made to perform sex acts on law enforcement officers. The plaintiff filed her lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia.
Jane Doe alleges that in 2010 she “was approached by a woman who suggested she travel to the U.S. to work as an ‘escort,’” a job she was told would entail “going on dates and attending lavish events with wealthy men,” the suit reads. Doe says she was not told she would be engaging in sex acts.
After agreeing to the woman’s proposal, Doe was ‘flown to Virginia on a ticket purchased by her new employer” in October 2010 and was “driven to an apartment in Fairfax, Virginia, where she met her new boss, Hazel Marie Sanchez Cerdas.” The plaintiff’s suit states, “Sanchez told her that she would not be going on dates with men, but instead would be having sex with them.” She was also threatened into compliance, with Sanchez telling her she knew where the plaintiff’s “family was and would have them harmed” if she did not perform sex acts.
Doe was forced to have sex with “several men per day for four and a half years,” and that all of the money received went straight to Sanchez or her employer’s husband. “By reason of her fear of harm to her family in Costa Rica, Jane Doe was coerced into providing commercial sex, beginning the very day of her arrival in Virginia,” the lawsuit states.
Local officers helped to protect the trafficking operation in exchange for free services. The suit states that two Fairfax County police officers in particular “alerted Sanchez when the department would be doing sex trafficking stings and tipped her off about when they would be searching sites like Backpage.com and Eros.com.” Sanchez advertised on these sites. The suit states, “Sanchez made Jane Doe available to them for sexual services gratis” as a ‘thank you.’
In April 2015, the plaintiff says, she “seized the opportunity to escape and went to law enforcement. Then, in 2019, Sanchez was charged with, and eventually pleaded guilty to, felony sex trafficking crimes. She was sentenced to 30 months behind bars.
Many other women who spoke to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) gave similar accounts of what had happened in Sanchez’s sex ring, including that they were lured into the United States from their home countries by Sanchez’s associates under false pretenses. They also told investigators that they were surprised to hear they would be providing sexual favors for money, according to an arrest affidavit. “Often, Sanchez coerced them into staying by threatening their families abroad,” the lawsuit reads, continuing, “One woman was required to let a customer spit in her face, and another insert a bottle into her vagina.”
The criminal case was transferred to the FBI’s Public Corruption Division, where the plaintiff believes “the police officers involved were investigated for their involvement in the trafficking ring.” She is unable to back this up with proof, though, because, although she tried, Doe has been unable to obtain any information.
The Fairfax Police Department has repeatedly warned the public in recent years that sex trafficking is on the rise in northern Virginia, stating that teens are “now being targeted in public venues, including bus stops, shopping malls, and social media.”