Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Elvin Hernandez is one of the guests of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the State of the Union Tuesday night. Hernandez works in the trafficking in persons unit for the Homeland Security agency.
Hernandez is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.
“He has more than 18 years of Federal law enforcement experience investigating narcotics, gangs, and human trafficking. During his current 7-year assignment, Elvin has conducted numerous successful international human trafficking investigations involving transnational organized crime groups,” the White House says about Hernandez.
According to court documents, Hernandez has worked in New York. In 2013, he led a case in the Southern District of New York that led to the arrests of 13 people who were tied to a sex trafficking ring.
According to court documents, Hernandez and his colleagues helped shut down a “Tennancingo, Mexico, to New York sex trafficking network.” Hernandez wrote in an affidavit in that case, “The traffickers often lure women to the United States one at a time by engaging them in romantic relationships and promising a better life in New York. After the women are smuggled from Mexico to New York by their traffickers, they are forced by the traffickers to begin working as prostitutes against their will under abhorrent conditions.”
Hernandez added, “The victims are often beaten, threatened with physical harm to themselves and their family members, sexually assaulted, and verbally abused. In a typical day, a Mexican sex trafficking victim in New York will have sexual intercourse with 20 to 30 customers. In some cases, the victims work in residential
brothels – apartments or houses used as brothels for two to four women, where a co-conspirator of the traffickers provides security.”
According to the Department of Justice, the case led to life sentences in federal prison for the leaders of the sex trafficking ring. The other defendants also received lengthy prison sentences, the Justice Department said in a press release in 2014.
Then ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes Jr. said in a statement:
The arrests today move the United States closer to blockading the repugnant sex trafficking corridor that organizations like the one allegedly operated by Isaias Flores-Mendez and his cohorts use to smuggle innocent victims between Tenancingo, Mexico and New York City. HSI will vigorously target and prosecute leaders and members of sex trafficking organizations who seek to prey on the innocence and trust of young women and children in order to enslave them for profit and devote all necessary resources to rescuing victims of sex trafficking and exploitation.
Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said about the case that was led by Hernandez:
With promises of a better life, the members of this alleged sex trafficking and prostitution ring lured their unsuspecting victims to the United States and then consigned them to a living hell – forcing them to become sex slaves living in abhorrent conditions, and using threats, verbal abuse, and violence – sexual and otherwise – when they resisted and even sometimes when they didn’t. With their arrests today, the barbaric conduct in which these defendants allegedly engaged in order to make a profit has now been put to a stop, and they will be prosecuted for their alleged crimes and the women they enslaved will be able to put their lives back together.
Hernandez is one of two law enforcement officers joining the First Lady as one of the Trumps’ guests at the president’s second State of the Union. Officer Timothy Matson of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police will also be in attendance as a guest. Matson, 41, was wounded during the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October 2018 while trying to stop the gunman.
The Trumps are bringing 13 guests to the State of the Union address. Also in attendance will be three family members of a Nevada couple who were killed by an undocumented immigrant during a home invasion, two people who were released from prison as part of Trump’s criminal justice reform efforts, a 9-year-old girl fighting cancer, an Ohio woman who has battled opioid addiction, a lumber facility worker, a Tree of Life synagogue shooting survivor, the father of a Navy seaman killed in the U.S.S. Cole attack and a 6th-grade boy who has been bullied because he shares a last name with the president.