According to federal court records,on March 12, 2018, 37-year-old Albert E. Martinez, of Chambersburg, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his central role in spearheading a widespread criminal enterprise that allegedly forced dozens of individuals, primarily teenage girls, into prostitution.
To run this criminal enterprise, Martinez worked with two longtime friends who also called Chambersburg home: Anthony D’Ambrosio and Armando Delgado. From July 2012 to January 2015, these individuals posted advertisements for commercial sex on Backpage.com, a website commonly used to facilitate the exploitation of trafficking victims. The pair also rented motel rooms and provided several kinds of illicit drugs (including oxycodone, cocaine, and marijuana) to further this elaborate trafficking scheme.
Martinez was at the helm of the ring, which reportedly grew from the business relationship he and D’Ambrosio, formed through owning a Chambersburg pizza shop and hookah lounge together. Martinez, per his own testimony, robbed an individual of thousands in marijuana-related “seed money” to initiate the prostitution ring. As the women Martinez forced into prostitution would later testify, Martinez physically abused at least one of his victims and transported them to strip clubs to perform commercial sex acts. He also used lavish attire, drugs, and housing as a means to lure additional victims in the trafficking ring.
According to Herald Mail Media, several of the women who Martinez sold for sex also lived with him, as he demanded they make $1,000 each day. Though the ring was based out of Chambersburg, it was a multistate operation spanning Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C.
In January of 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced a federal grand jury indictment of Martinez that included charges of sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of an individual to engage in prostitution, and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity.
As more evidence in the case was uncovered, additional charges were brought against Martinez including distribution of controlled substancesand conspiracy. Additionally, Martinez’s coconspirators, D’Ambrosio and Delgado, along with Martinez’s then-19-year-old son, Keanu, were all also charged with those same offenses. Another member of enterprise, then-28-year-old Harrisburg resident, Brandon Hill, was charged with conspiracy and drug distribution. Hill would go on to plead guilty in 2016 to drug trafficking which resulted in a 37-month sentence.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Albert Martinez pled guilty in March 2016 to all charges against him. By December 2017, his son, Keanu, also pled guilty to one count of transporting a minor to engage in prostitution. Weeks later, D’Ambrosio and Delgado were convicted in a federal jury trialof multiple drug and sexual trafficking charges.
Finally, in March of 2018, Chief U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Conner sentenced Martinez to 15 yearsin federal prison and recommended he serve his time in a Cumberland, Maryland prison.
The CSE Institute would like to congratulate the members of law enforcement and prosecution whose efforts put a halt to this complicated criminal enterprise. Without their efforts, it would not have been possible to bring these individuals to justice. The admirable dedication of law enforcement here unquestionably saved the lives of several victims of trafficking. Finally, we commend the brave survivors for coming forward and testifying against their abusers, an incredible demonstration of courage and strength that is remarkable in the face of extraordinary pain and adversity.
That being said, we are disappointed with some of the language used in Herald Mail Media’s March 14, 2018 coverage of Martinez’s sentencing. Namely, saying that the, “multistate prostitution ring eventually employed between 35 and 41 sex workers…” is not an accurate or responsible way to describe the facts of this case which included women and children being forced into prostitution. The crime of human trafficking, which is a crime of sexual violence, is not employment. To read more about the CSE Institute’s position on appropriate terminology pertaining to prostitution and sexual exploitation click here. We strongly encourage the use of appropriate language when discussing commercial sexual exploitation in order to both show respect for survivors and acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.