Oceanside couple accused of abusing 12-year-old smuggled into the country

Police: Arrests result of 2-year investigation

Police said an Oceanside couple is accused of physically and sexually abusing a 12-year-old Mexican girl smuggled into the country on a promise of a better life, then forced her to work under the threat of violence.

Inez Martinez Garcia, 43, and Marcial Garcia Hernandez, 45, were arrested Thursday morning as they left their Oceanside home. Each was booked into jail on suspicion of 13 felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years old, according to sheriff's Sgt. Joe Mata and jail records.

The arrests were the result of a two-and-a-half-year "cold case" investigation into the victim's allegations, Mata said.

The girl, now an adult, told investigators she was brought into the United States at age 12 with promises of a better life and education. However, she alleged that when she arrived at the suspects' household, she was forced to care for their three young children and cook and clean their house under the threat of violence, including beatings, Mata said.

She was also allegedly forced to have sex with Hernandez over a 21-month period, Mata said. When she refused to have sex or did not complete her assigned tasks in a timely or correct manner, she was beaten, he said.

At one point, the victim had to lie about her age to work at a restaurant and Garcia allegedly took her wages, Mata said. She was later forced to have sex with older men for money, Mata said.

The victim was eventually placed in protective custody after she was allegedly beaten by Garcia and the police were called. She was then reunited with her family in Mexico.

The case was suspended while the victim was in Mexico but was reopened when she returned to the United States and came forward with her story, Mata said.

The North County Human Trafficking Task Force along with Vista sheriff's deputies, Homeland Security investigators and Oceanside police arrested Garcia and Hernandez.

Both suspects were being held in the Vista Detention Facility on an immigration hold. They are due in court for an arraignment at 1:30 p.m. Monday, according to jail records.

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