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Muskegon man found guilty of sex trafficking, distributing cocaine

• May 15, 2019 at 7:48 PM

GRAND RAPIDS — A jury convicted Richardo Urbina, 58, on Tuesday following six days of trial in federal court in Grand Rapids on multiple charges related to sex trafficking and distributing cocaine.

The Muskegon man was found guilty of three counts of sex trafficking minors; three counts of attempting to sex traffic minors; conspiring to sex traffic minors; sex trafficking an adult by force, fraud or coercion; distributing cocaine; distributing cocaine base; and conspiring to distribute cocaine. He now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in federal prison.

In May 2015, Urbina, then 54, began recruiting girls ages 16-17 to have sex for money. He targeted runaways, who needed money and a place to stay. Urbina gave the girls alcohol and cocaine to make it more likely they would agree to “dance” or give “massages” to make money, federal authorities said. The girls learned the men expected more than “dancing” and “massages” when they were in the room. After the girls completed sex acts and received money, Urbina took half of it.

Around September 2016, Urbina recruited then 18-year-old Francisco Soto to help him recruit more underage girls. Soto befriended the girls by contacting them through Facebook, and he would offer to party with them. While partying, Urbina and Soto approached the girls about “dancing” and giving “massages.”

Urbina and Soto used a website to advertise the girls for commercial sex, and the jury received more than 500 pages of Backpage.com records in evidence. Urbina and Soto also used an application on their cellphones that allowed them to mask their true phone numbers. The jury received more than 4,000 individual messages sent and received through the app, coordinating commercial sex dates.

At trial, 10 girls testified about Urbina’s sexual exploitation of them while they were minors. One woman testified that, during the summer of 2016, Urbina sex-trafficked her after learning she needed a place to stay. He originally offered to help her by letting her live with him. The first night she stayed with Urbina, he made her have sex for money. When she tried to get away, Urbina hit and choked her. He also told her she owed him $1,000 because he was making so much money off her.

The woman testified that she escaped Urbina by secretly booking a hotel room and moving into it while he slept.

The West Michigan-based Child Exploitation Task Force investigated Urbina. The investigation included members of the FBI, Michigan State Police, Kent County Sheriff’s Office and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. The case was tried by assistant U.S. attorneys Davin M. Reust and Alexis M. Sanford.

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