Man Sentenced to 12 years for Sex Trafficking

GOLDEN, Colo. (Jun. 26, 2024) – Roman Bear Rivera was sentenced on Monday to 12 years in the Department of Corrections for Trafficking for Sexual Servitude. Rivera also received 12 years in a separate case, to be served concurrently, for Retaliation against the victim in this case. Rivera was arrested and charged as a result of a nationwide sex trafficking enforcement campaign known as Operation Cross Country.

In July of 2023, more than 40 state and local agencies partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in support of Operation Cross Country, which sought to locate victims of sex trafficking as well as investigate and arrest individuals perpetrating related crimes. Investigators from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO), the Lakewood Police Department (LPD), and other partnering agencies initiated their investigation into Rivera based on an ad for sex in exchange for money. Investigators eventually connected with the victim, an adult female, with the goal of providing her with resources.

Approximately eight hours after meeting with the victim, an Investigator was contacted by Rivera. Rivera was unaware the Investigator was working undercover. Rivera texted: “Look tell my b**** that’s with you to fu**** call or everyone is goona get it I know whatchu look like.” Rivera followed up with several other text messages demonstrating manipulation and control of the victim. Rivera later informed the Investigator that the victim had not come home, and that the victim had sent him a picture of the Investigator for insurance purposes. Rivera then threatened extortion and said the victim was late on her payments. He demanded the Investigator pay for the hours the victim couldn’t work.

The Investigator later spoke with Rivera over the phone, where Rivera portrayed an organized operation, alluding to controlling other sex trafficking victims. Rivera further stated the victim was still “supposed to be on the clock.” Rivera and the Investigator further conversed via voice and text around him collecting payment.

In October 2023, Rivera was arrested and charged with one count of Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude and one count of Pimping and was held on a $50,000 cash only bond. In February, Rivera’s bond was lowered, and he bonded out. Just two days later, Rivera located the victim at a motel and assaulted her, punching her in the face multiple times. Rivera was later arrested and charged with Retaliation Against a Witness, Assault in the Third Degree, and Violation of a Protection Order. He was held on $75,000 cash only bond and has remained in custody. Rivera made numerous attempts to contact the victim while in custody at the jail and picked up additional Protection Order Violations.

In May, as part of a global disposition, Rivera pleaded guilty to the top count of Human Trafficking for Sexual Servitude (F3) and one count of Retaliation Against a Witness or Victim (F4). As a result of his plea, he faced 8-12 years in prison. Prosecutors dismissed the remaining charges.

At sentencing, Detective Lucero of the Lakewood Police Department told the Court, “Mr. Rivera recruited, manipulated, and intimidated people into sexual servitude for his selfish gains, and his destructive reach was quite far within our community.” Lucero also told the Court the investigation revealed some of Rivera’s recruitment tactics and evidence that he attempted to recruit and manipulate additional potential victims. “As a seasoned agent, I’ve been involved in many cases, and the inhumane, callus nature of this case and Mr. Rivera’s predatory conduct will stay with me for a long time.”

A Sheriff’s Investigator also told the Court, “[The victim] was repeatedly coerced into believing she was worthless and powerless, leaving her with shattered self-esteem and a sense of identity that will be difficult to rebuild. This emotional manipulation can lead to severe depression, anxiety, and a profound sense of hopelessness.”

Deputy District Attorney Sarah Beth Toben argued for the maximum sentence, highlighting various aggravating factors in this case. Particularly significant was when Rivera bonded out, found the victim, and assaulted her. Toben emphasized that violence was a constant threat to the victim, as Rivera not only assaulted the victim but also tried to intimidate her multiple times to manipulate the investigation in his favor.

“We could not have reached this disposition without the dedicated Investigators who went above and beyond to ensure Rivera was held accountable; including delivering impactful statements to the Court that illustrated the extent of manipulation and emotional abuse experienced by victims at the hands of their traffickers,” said DDA Toben. “And I’m grateful to the Investigators and our victim advocate who worked tirelessly to keep close contact with the victim and ensure she had the resources and support she needed throughout the case.”