SAN DIEGO – On January 5, 2024, Kenneth Tenorio, 54, of National City was sentenced in federal court to 106 months in prison for transporting two female teens from San Diego to Phoenix, Arizona and El Paso, Texas, for the purpose of prostitution.
U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Bencivengo admonished the defendant for his treatment of victims, saying: “You just took advantage of their vulnerabilities to put money in your pocket.” She noted the maximum sentence of 120 months was appropriate but gave Tenorio credit for the time he spent in custody in Texas on local charges prior to the federal proceedings.
According to court records, Tenorio’s conduct spanned multiple states and involved multiple victims, including juveniles. The defendant exploited women and minors who had been removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system as part of his overall scheme to profit from their commercial sex work.
Tenorio pleaded guilty on August 8, 2023, admitting that he transported two of his victims from California to Arizona and Texas for the purpose of offering them for commercial sex for his own financial gain. The defendant used the internet to post commercial sex advertisements featuring the two victims wearing lingerie. The defendant expected his victims to provide him with a portion of the proceeds they earned from engaging in commercial sex acts in these various locations.
According to his plea agreement, beginning in September 2020, the defendant also trafficked a 15-year-old identified as JF1. The defendant knew JF1 was a minor and nonetheless sent text messages to JF1 for the purpose of recruiting and enticing her to engage in prostitution.
The plea agreement reflects that in October 2020, JF1 stayed with the defendant at his residence in National City, California, and he used a false California identification to post online commercial sex advertisements featuring her. He also instructed her on how to engage in prostitution on “the blade” – a slang term that refers to an area of town where prostitutes/sex workers solicit sex-buyers – and informed her that he would provide protection for a fee. The defendant admitted that JF1 worked “the blade” for him a number of times in October 2020, and each time, he drove her there and picked her up, collecting a portion of the illicit proceeds she earned.
The investigation was led by Homeland Security Investigations, the Chula Vista Police Department, and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force, a regional, multi-agency effort led by the California Department of Justice dedicated to supporting survivors and holding traffickers accountable. The task force is comprised of numerous federal, state, and local agencies, as well as the Southwest Border High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program. The investigation was also supported by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office.