Federal jury convicts San Jose woman of sex trafficking conspiracy

FILE - Generic gavel on wooden table.

A federal jury has convicted a 29-year-old San Jose woman of conspiracy and sex trafficking of children.

In federal court Wednesday, the jury found that prosecutors proved Araceli Mendoza conspired with three co-defendants to operate a prostitution ring of adult women and girls under age 18 in cities throughout the South Bay, including San Jose and Santa Clara, between September 2014 and January 2016.

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According to a news release issued Wednesday from Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds, Mendoza and two other women -- Jocelyn Contreras, 26, of Redwood City, and Alyssa Anthony, 27, of Gilroy -- worked as recruiters for Ariel Guizar-Cuellar, 41, of San Jose, who was the leader, primary facilitator and main financial beneficiary of the unlawful commercial sex venture.

Mendoza and the other women reportedly worked to recruit women and girls to work as prostitutes and exotic dancers, transport them to and from prostitution dates, book hotel rooms for the prostitution dates, collect money after the dates, and create and post prostitution advertisements on the internet, prosecutors said.

On Wednesday, the jury convicted Mendoza of conspiracy and substantive sex trafficking as to one of the minor victims, acquitted her of sex trafficking for a second minor victim, and failed to reach a verdict as to the sex trafficking of a third minor victim.

Mendoza faces a sentence of between 10 years and life in prison.