One of the biggest names in human-slave trafficking pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday afternoon.
Luciano Salazar-Juarez, (pictured, left), admitted to transporting illegal immigrants across the San Diego-Mexico border for prostitution purposes.
The United States Attorney's Office said Salazar's plea is just the beginning. And, human rights advocates said (the plea deal?) is still a major victory. They were smiling in court as the guilty plea was entered.
"I'm happy. I just couldn't wait to hear him say, 'I'm guilty,'" said Marisa Ugarte of the Bilateral Safety Corridor.
The man she is talking about is Salazar, one name in an entire family known for trafficking human slaves across the border.
In federal court, Salazar pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport and two counts of harboring illegal aliens for the purpose of prostitution.
Each year in the United States, more than 50,000 victims, mainly woman and children, are trafficked across the border, forced to live in apartments or houses, dozens at a time, and make money as prostitutes. Prosecutors hope Salazar's guilty plea is just the first of many.
"These defendants, this family has been operating for a while and there haven't been charges brought," said Chris Tenorio, assistant U.S. attorney. "So we hope this is just the beginning and shows they can't operate with impunity."
Defense attorney Thomas Mix said, "He admitted that he was invovolved in this situation and wanted to put it behind him and move on with his life."
One of the reasons this case came to light was that two of the victims involved were in a fatal car accident last fall. A carload of women tried to cross a flooded street, but the car overturned and some of the women were trapped in the car. Two of those women happened to be illegal immigrants forced into prostitution.
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