SPARTANBURG Co., (WSPA) – The so-called ‘ring leader’ of a sexual criminal enterprise that brought prostitutes into the Upstate, was sentenced by a judge in federal court in Spartanburg Thursday morning.
Orianna Martinez, 30, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and 3 years supervised release after she pleaded guilty to Violating the Mann Act and Money Laundering this Spring.
Martinez, known by investigators as the ‘Air Traffic Controler’ in the operation, was accused of helping prostitutes from around world fly into local airports, like the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, and then having them sell sex in brothels she set up in Greenville and Spartanburg.
Two others involved in the case were also in federal court Thursday for their sentencing in the scheme.
Sulay Matos was given 18 months supervised release from a judge, while Christian Carriel was given 1 year supervised release for aiding Martinez in the ring.
The prosecution stated that Carriel’s overwhelming regret for what he did as well as willingness to help in the investigation, proved to them that he should receive a lesser sentence.
7-News Caught up with Martinez as she walked into federal court, but when asked several questions about the case and about if she was remorseful, she only stated, “I don’t have time for this.”
In front of a judge, however, Martinez changed her tune and apologized.
The mother of one said she wanted a chance to continue fulfilling her goal of becoming an entrepreneur, and hoped to be able to better-provide for her teenage son.
She also stated that the reason she headed the criminal enterprise was so that she could save money for surgery to remove her implants.
Steven Michaels, an investigator with the Department of Homeland Security who helped build the case around Martinez, said that while he was not able to bring forth charges of human trafficking in this case, he still believed the women being exploited in the scheme are victims; many of which still need help.
“She brought women in from outside the United States. They worked for her in a sex brothel, and Orianna Martinez made money from that. If that’s not human trafficking, I don’t know what is,” he said outside of court.
Michales was credited with helping 4 victims receive help after they expressed a desire to get out of the ring.
However, Frank Eppes, an attorney at Eppes & Plumblee, PA, representing Matos, emphasized that the lack of charge made an impact in the case.
“The court noted and the prosecution noted that this was not a human trafficking case the way it was originally charged,” he told 7 News.
For Michaels, proving force and coercion is a significant challenge in all human trafficking cases.
“I think it speaks to how difficult human trafficking investigations really are,” he added.
When asked what he thought of Martinez’s 15-month sentencing, Michaels said he was content, pointing out that being able to rid the Upstate of this ring was the most important accomplishment for investigators.
To read 7 News’ Original Report on this investigation, Behind Closed Doors, click here.