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Homeland Security agents seek victims of two alleged sex traffickers

Two people were accused of sexually trafficking a 14-year-old girl in Arizona and across three other states, and Homeland Security agents are asking the public's help in identifying other potential victims.

Last week, investigators with Homeland Security Investigations—a part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement—arrested two people, charging the pair with two counts of sexually exploiting a minor, including illegally transporting the girl to Colorado, New Mexico and Texas from August to October.

In simultaneous actions, federal agents arrested Maurice Fitzgerald Alexander, 31, in Tucson and his partner, Erica Lucia Navarro, 31, in El Paso, Texas.

The investigation began in early October when HSI Tucson special agents responded to a juvenile victim who said she had been trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, said Yasmeen Pitts-O'Keefe, an ICE spokeswoman.

Agents interviewed the girl and discovered she had been raped, plied with drugs, and transported across four states from August to October. According to court records, the girl identified Alexander and Navarro in photographs for investigators on October 13, and investigators "strongly suspect" there are more victims.

The case was sealed on October 15, however, on Tuesday U.S. District Judge Eric J. Markovich agreed to unseal the case following a request from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

According to court documents, Alexander "recruited" the girl—identified only as Jane Doe in court records—through Snapchat, offering her employment. On Aug. 19, Alexander met the girl at a hotel in Phoenix where he allegedly raped her, "to see if she would be able to make him money." Alexander then took Jane Doe to an apartment in Tucson where he forced her to perform sex acts with other people for money, which Alexander kept for himself.

Approximately two to three days later, Alexander introduced Jane Doe to Navarro in Tucson, where they gave her cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription opioids. The girl was then transported to El Paso, Texas and then onto Colorado Springs, Colorado and Las Cruces, New Mexico.

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Investigators reviewed several websites soliciting sex and found that Jane Doe was in several advertisements, according to court records.

Anyone who may have had previous contact with Alexander or Navarro, or thinks they may have  information relevant to the ongoing sex trafficking investigation, is asked to call (520) 229-5100, said Pitts-O'Keefe.

Prosecutions are being handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

Although HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS, in recent years the agency has also become deeply involved in investigations focused on the exploitation of children, including investigations around internet sites and social media.

Pitts-O'Keefe said that HSI takes a "victim-centered approach" to child sex trafficking investigations by working to identify, rescue and stabilize victims. HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and partner organizations as part of the Internet Crimes Against Children task-force, along with ICAC partners, and other federal, state, and local agencies. People who suspect cases of child sexual exploitation, or cases of missing children can contact NCMEC's toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse, said Pitts-O'Keefe.

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HSI

Maurice Fitzgerald Alexander, 31, and Erica Lucia Navarro, 31, are accused of trafficking a minor and sexually exploiting her in four states, including Arizona.