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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. Sex Traffickers Sentenced in Maine After HSI Investigation

Sex Traffickers Sentenced in Maine After HSI Investigation

Release Date: April 23, 2024

PORTLAND, Maine — Ricardo Middleton, 32, of Boston, was sentenced to 30 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release after a jury found him guilty in December 2023 of obstruction and sex trafficking a young woman through force, fraud and coercion in Maine.

Middleton’s co-defendant, Sherry Jones, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was sentenced today to 80 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Jones had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking on May 23, 2023.

“The horrific violence inflicted upon women by Middleton and his co-conspirators is difficult to comprehend,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New England Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Krol. “He targeted someone battling substance use issues and used this as a lever to control, making it even harder for her to escape the nightmare she found herself in. We hope the sentence marks an end to this traumatic experience and serves as a beginning for those he victimized because they deserve a life of dignity and self-determination.”

“This significant sentence imposed by the court reflects the severity of the defendant’s exploitation of the victim over three days. He used drugs, threats, physical force and rape to force her to engage in commercial sex for his own profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “These acts were odious and intolerable. They denied the victim’s basic humanity. The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute human trafficking crimes to hold offenders accountable and to seek justice for survivors of these heinous crimes.”

“Commercial sex trafficking traumatizes its victims and strips them of their freedom and dignity,” said U.S. Attorney for the District of Maine Darcie N. McElwee. “Addressing this serious crime is a priority to my office. I commend the commitment of the law enforcement team that diligently worked this important case for years, always keeping the safety and recovery of Middleton’s vulnerable victim as the main priority.”

HSI’s investigation found Middleton exploited a 25-year-old Maine woman who was suffering with substance abuse disorder and compelled her to engage in commercial sex, using drugs, lies, intimidation, physical violence and rape to control her. Testimony provided details of the three days in November 2015 when Middleton, Jones and co-defendant Mathew Thatcher, of Scarborough, Maine, transported the victim to several locations in Maine and Massachusetts. Along the way, Middleton berated the victim, abused and humiliated her, including raping her and saying he was “going to make a lot of money off” her. The evidence further detailed how Middleton, while detained pending trial, instructed a co-defendant not to cooperate with the government or incriminate him.

On March 22, Thatcher was sentenced to 44 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Thatcher pleaded guilty on Nov. 17, 2023, to interstate transportation in aid of racketeering and contempt of court. Neither of Middleton’s co-defendants testified at the December trial.

HSI New England’s Portland Resident Agent in Charge Office investigated the case with assistance from the FBI, the Biddeford Police Department, the Portland Police Department, the South Portland Police Department, the Topsham Police Department and the Saco Police Department.

Combating human trafficking is a top priority for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and HSI — an estimated 28 million men, women and children are subjected to human trafficking worldwide, including here in the United States, each year — 80% are held in forced labor and 20% in sex trafficking. In the last fiscal year, HSI initiated more than 1,350 human trafficking investigations, assisted more than 750 victims, and arrested more than 3,650 traffickers.

Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or reach out to HSI at our tip line at 877-4-HSI-TIP.

Last Updated: 04/23/2024
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