NORRISTOWN – A Perkiomen Township man, a Mexican national residing in the U.S. illegally, faces jail time and then deportation for operating what authorities claim was a “sex trade business” in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Florencio Perez Martinez, 45, who once resided in the 600 block of Gravel Pike, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 11½ to 23 months in the county jail, to be followed by 18 years’ probation, after he pleaded guilty to charges of corrupt organizations and promoting prostitution in connection with incidents that occurred between February and June 2013.
“He was part of an enterprise that was running a prostitution business pretty much all over Montgomery County,” said Assistant District Attorney Jordan Friter, who sought jail time against Martinez. “He would pick up a girl each week at a bus station, either in Norristown or Philadelphia, would house her for a week, drive her around to customers, collect the money from her and then take her back to the bus station and pick up a new girl.”
Authorities believe the women were coming from out of state. While authorities suspect others were involved in the operation, no one else was arrested in connection with the illegal business.
Federal immigration officials have placed a detainer on Martinez, who was born and raised in Tlaxcala, Mexico, and who was in the U.S. illegally. Judge Steven T. O’Neill, who accepted the plea agreement in the case, indicated Martinez will be deported after he completes his stint in jail.
“It’s the kind of crime that affects a whole community. It was throughout Montgomery County. He was doing this right in quiet neighborhoods and this type of activity can’t be tolerated by the community,” said Friter, who leads the district attorney’s sex crimes prosecution unit.
An investigation of Martinez began in February after “a concerned citizen” approached police because he was aware that women were being exploited, according to the arrest affidavit filed by Upper Merion Detective Leslie Glauner and county Detective Joseph P. Kelly Jr.
“This concerned citizen told police of a man who was operating an illegal sex trade business in the Souderton area of Montgomery County,” Glauner and Kelly alleged in the criminal complaint, adding various surveillance techniques were used to verify the information provided by the concerned citizen.
According to court papers, authorities even received court permission to put a GPS tracking device on Martinez’s car and wiretaps on his cell phone.
The investigation determined Martinez’s illegal sex trade business operated in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Bucks and Philadelphia counties, according to the criminal complaint. Martinez traveled to public transportation centers in Norristown and Philadelphia to meet the women he used for the prostitution operation, detectives alleged.
“During the course of this investigation, surveillance detectives have witnessed Martinez with 14 different women. Martinez used each of the women to further his illegal sex trade business. Detectives have seen Martinez transport these women to the locations of his customers,” Glauner and Kelly wrote in the arrest affidavit.
When authorities interviewed Martinez he confessed that he operated the illegal sex trade business for about eight months, according to court documents.
“Martinez admitted he keeps records of the prostitutes he employs through the use of a calendar,” Glauner and Kelly alleged, adding Martinez would pick up a different woman each Monday. “From Monday to Saturday, Martinez routinely transports these women to service customers. He routinely transports the women to numerous locations during the course of the night for the purpose of trading sex for money.”
Martinez told authorities he allowed the women to stay in a room at his apartment during their stays in Montgomery County. Martinez claimed the women charged customers between $25 and $30 for sex and the women then turned between $10 and $12 over to Martinez.
“Martinez advised he usually takes the female to between four and eight customers a day,” Glauner and Kelly said. “He advised in the past he would service more customers, but the economy has affected his business.”
When detectives searched Martinez’s Perkiomen apartment they found calendars for years 2011 to 2013, which included notations of women’s names on Mondays of each week, according to court documents.
Martinez allegedly told authorities his Mexican home state is “the center of prostitution.” None of the women, according to Martinez, told him they were from his home state but he acknowledged “their bosses have probably intimidated them and tell them not to talk about it,” according to court documents.
Many of the women, Martinez allegedly told authorities, have so-called “husbands.” Martinez explained “a husband is really a person who oversees the woman’s prostitution activities.” Martinez allegedly claimed he asked the women where they were from but they refused to tell him “because they fear their husband will hurt them,” according to court documents.
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews