On August 19, 2022, Dimas “Adonys” Hernandez, 36, and Franklin “Mono” Rivera-Mendieta, 27, were convicted of trafficking minors, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, rape, and other related offenses. Josue Sibrian-Sanchez, 25, pleaded guilty to his role in the operation and testified against Hernandez and Rivera-Mendieta. All three men are also members of the 18th Street gang, a transnational gang primarily based on the West Coast.
The conviction resulted from an investigation that revealed a sex trafficking ring in East Whiteland Township, PA. These minor victims were held against their will and raped by multiple individuals each day. Traffickers also took explicit photos of the minor victims and later used them in online advertisements for commercial sex. The victims were threatened with physical harm and violence if they refused to comply with their traffickers’ orders. The victims were also forced to ingest drugs. Police believe the traffickers had been abusing the victims since February 2020.
Eventually, one of the victims, who was 14-year-old, was able to contact her mother on Facebook. This contact catalyzed the raid, which led to the rescue of the victims. The 14-year-old told police that she had been “recruited” by a 17-year-old female while at a party in Washington, DC. The 17-year-old contacted the 14-year-old through Snapchat, telling the 14-year-old that she could “make some money.” One of the codefendants, along with the 17-year-old, picked up the 14-year-old in Maryland and transported the two across state lines to Malvern, PA. In Malvern, the 14-year-old was then forced to perform sex acts for the codefendants and sex buyers.
Police later discovered another victim from Virginia, who was trafficked between February and March of 2020. That victim recounted a similar story: she met a female through Snapchat who told the victim that one of the co-defendants wanted to hire her to work at a bar. The 18-year-old victim was then brought to East Whiteland Township from Virginia and forced to have sex against her will.
It is important to remember that the 17-year-old female, who contacted these victims through Snapchat, is most likely a victim of trafficking herself, forced to sell sex and also recruit additional victims by the traffickers. This role, colloquially known as a “bottom-girl,” is more accurately categorized by advocates as a “victim-offender.” The CSE Institute firmly believes those who occupy the intersection of victim-offender in a trafficking network should be treated as victims by the criminal justice system.
The CSE Institute commends the efforts of Chester County law enforcement for their diligent investigation into this sex trafficking ring. The CSE Institute also commends the work of the Chester County District Attorney’s Office for their diligent prosecution of these crimes. Finally, and most importantly, the CSE Institute commends the bravery of both victims who testified at this trial. It is irrefutable that survivor voices will be the ones to promulgate change in the sex trafficking narrative.
Hernandez’s and Rivera-Mendieta’s sentencing is scheduled for October 19, 2022, at 1:30 pm. The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates on this matter.
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.