Smuggling Case With Ties to Grays Harbor County Sends Three to Prison


Three Mexican citizens who were living in Federal Way, but lived in Aberdeen in the early and mid-2000s, were sentenced to prison Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle for conspiracy to violate immigration laws for financial gain. They likely will be deported when they are released.

Sentenced were Miguel Arcef-Flores, 42, (to 40 months in prison); Angel Sandoval Mondragon, 37, (to 36 months in prison); and Marbella Sandoval Mondragon, 38, (to 34 months in prison). Along with their smuggling crimes, they were in the country without legal status, the Department of Justice said.

U.S. District Judge James L. Robart imposed the sentences, saying that the “extreme and abusive conduct of the defendants” took the case “well outside the heartland of the typical alien smuggling case.”

“The defendants promised the world, and then stole the childhood of a 14-year-old girl,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “They preyed on a vulnerable relative for their own selfish and depraved reasons. Victims should know that they can safely come forward and report human trafficking crimes and all of us in law enforcement will work to ensure the perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice.”

While in Aberdeen, the then-teenager and her cousin were sexually molested and threatened with deportation if they told anyone about their situation and were denied food and medical care, according to the Department of Justice. The defendants eventually moved to the Seattle area. Court papers described some of the molestation incidents as having taken place in Aberdeen.

Miguel Arcef-Flores served as an assistant pastor at a church in Aberdeen for a time, according to court papers. He was accused of sexually molesting the teen’s younger relative and acting sexually inappropriate to the teen, according to the papers.

“No one should be forced to live in a world of isolation, servitude and terror as this young victim was, particularly in a country that prides itself on its freedoms,” said Brad Bench, a special agent who worked on the case. “It’s a sad reflection on human greed and heartlessness, that people believe they can engage in this kind of egregious exploitation with impunity.”

All three defendants were indicted in December 2015 and have been in custody since their arrests on December 7, 2015.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Seattle Police Department, the Federal Way Police Department, and the Aberdeen Police Department. The Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division also assisted with restitution calculations.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kate Crisham and Bruce Miyake.