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Pair charged with offering teen girls for sex in Kent, Muskegon counties

John Hogan/WZZM-TV • May 12, 2018 at 7:00 AM

GRAND RAPIDS — Two men have been charged with prostituting teenage girls in Kent and Muskegon counties, some of whom were plied with drugs and alcohol "to facilitate commercial sex acts.''

Girls ages 15-17 turned tricks at homes and motels, according to a 13-page federal indictment filed this week in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.

Richardo Leodoro Urbina, 57, and Francisco Miguel Soto, 19, face numerous charges, including sex trafficking and distribution of cocaine. The sex trafficking began in May 2015 and ran through September 2017, court records show.

Investigators say the men befriended, recruited and enticed the girls into commercial sex acts. They also arranged sex acts with paying customers using the internet and cellphones, according to authorities.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tessa Hessmiller said at least 10 defendants have been prosecuted in federal court for human sex trafficking in West Michigan in the past four years.

“There’s been approximately 30 victims associated with those cases between the ages of about 14 and 30,’’ she said, “all of whom are born and raised here in Michigan.’’

In the most recent case, the teenage girls were provided housing, food, drugs, alcohol, clothing, cash and condoms “to facilitate the commercial sex acts,’’ according to the indictment.

Urbina was initially charged in early March. A superseding indictment was filed in April listing Soto as a co-defendant. More charges appeared in a second superseding indictment filed this week.

Both men have federal court appearances set for Monday, May 14, in Grand Rapids.

The most serious charge — sex trafficking by force, threats of force, fraud and coercion — is punishable by not less than 15 years and up to life in prison.

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