Meridian Star

January 16, 2014

Sentencing Thursday in human trafficking case

HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press
Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — A man who pleaded guilty to transporting a woman across state lines for prostitution as part of a multistate kidnapping and human trafficking investigation was scheduled for sentencing Thursday afternoon in Mississippi.

Ruperto Moncillo Flores and another man were arrested June 27 after a woman walked into the Hattiesburg, Miss., Police Department and said she'd been abducted in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Authorities have said Flores had no knowledge of the abduction, but was asked to transport the woman to Louisiana for prostitution. The woman had been a witness in a prior human trafficking case, which led to numerous convictions in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Authorities say Flores, of Lawrenceville, Ga., was arrested in Mississippi when his van broke down before he made it to pick up the kidnapping victim.

Another woman with him at the time said Flores was taking her to Louisiana for prostitution, authorities say. He pleaded guilty in October to a violation of the federal Mann Act for transporting that woman.

Sentencing is scheduled to take place in U.S. District Court in Hattiesburg.

When Flores pleaded guilty, assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams said the victim heard her abductors call someone to take her to a "house of prostitution" in Baton Rouge, La.

Williams said at the time that the abduction started an investigation into a "multistate prostitution ring and human trafficking organization."

Feliciano-Francisco, also known as Uriel Castillo-Ochoa, is charged in U.S. District Court in Panama City, Fla., with kidnapping the former witness. He pleaded not guilty on Aug. 12 to five charges, including kidnapping and retaliating against a witness.

Authorities said the victim was in her yard in Florida when Feliciano-Francisco and an unidentified man forced her into a car and drove to Feliciano-Francisco's house in Hattiesburg. Investigators say Feliciano-Francisco sexually assaulted the victim and planned to force her to work as a prostitute.

The kidnapping victim escaped through a bathroom window that evening and went to the Hattiesburg Police Department about 6:30 p.m.

Feliciano-Francisco was arrested at the house that night. Flores was arrested on Interstate 59 in Jones County.

___

Follow Holbrook Mohr on Twitter at https://twitter.com/holbrookmohr .