El Paso man arrested for inducing foreign or interstate travel for prostitution

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EL PASO, Texas — A local man authorities suspect took part in running an escort service is scheduled to be back in federal court this week following his arrest Friday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Ronald Lee Blake, 45, faces a charge involving foreign or interstate travel for prostitution. HSI and FBI special agents arrested him at his home in east El Paso. He was released Monday on a $10,000 bond, and is set to return to federal court Thursday for an arraignment hearing.

A superseding federal grand jury indictment, returned July 23, 2014, charges Blake and his 44-year-old wife, Maria (aka "Jessica", "Yvonne"), with one count of aiding and abetting coercion and enticement. Maria Blake is also charged in a separate count with coercion and enticement.

Maria Blake was arrested June 24, 2014. She was released on a $10,000 bond. Her next hearing is set for Aug. 21 in federal court.

The indictment alleges that beginning in July 2011, the defendants knowingly persuaded or attempted to persuade individuals to travel in foreign or interstate commerce to engage in prostitution.

The indictment also contains notice of criminal forfeiture wherein the federal government is seeking the forfeiture of proceeds which facilitated, or were derived from, the defendants' scheme including U.S. currency and real property located in El Paso.

The indictment stems from an investigation initiated by the El Paso Anti-trafficking Coordination Team (ACT Team). The ACT Team is a human trafficking task force composed of HSI and FBI special agents and the Department of Labor.

If convicted, the Blakes face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for each count.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rifian Newaz is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

An indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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