Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 8, 2019
Yohanna Gonzalez-McFarlane, 38, of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, was arrested on August 7, and charged in a criminal complaint with one count of alien harboring for financial gain and one count of interstate transportation for prostitution. The arrest was announced by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert for the District of the Virgin Islands.
According to court documents that were unsealed today, between at least December 2018 and August 2019, the defendant recruited young foreign women and arranged to have them smuggled into the U.S. Virgin Islands. The defendant then housed the women at a residence on St. Thomas and required them to engage in commercial sex at the defendant’s nightclub to repay a smuggling debt. The case came to law enforcement’s attention when one of the women reported the conditions of her treatment to her family, who then called the Virgin Islands Police Department.
The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Edwards for the District of the Virgin Islands and Trial Attorney Mark Probasco and Special Litigation Counsel Rose Gibson for the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.Topic(s): Civil RightsHuman TraffickingComponent(s): Civil Rights DivisionUSAO – Virgin IslandsPress Release Number: 19-849Updated August 8, 2019