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  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
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  3. Couple Sentenced for Benefiting from Forced Labor Following HSI Rio Grande Valley Investigation

Couple Sentenced for Benefiting from Forced Labor Following HSI Rio Grande Valley Investigation

Release Date: June 26, 2024

McALLEN, Texas — A south Texas couple was sentenced June 24 following their admissions of benefiting from a victim’s free labor. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Rio Grande Valley investigated the case.

Eduardo Javier Gomez, 32, was sentenced to 70 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. His former partner, Margarita Alvarez, 42, was sentenced to two years of probation. The couple pleaded guilty March 1, 2023.

“No one should be forced to live in a world of isolation, servitude and terror, particularly in a country that prides itself on its freedoms,” said HSI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee. “This case is a sad reflection on human greed and heartlessness that people believe they can engage in this kind of egregious exploitation with impunity. This sentence should send a message to those who traffic in human beings: that HSI and is committed to protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”

According to court documents, from June 24 until July 8, 2021, Gomez and Alvarez benefited from a victim’s free labor. Gomez earned money from a fireworks stand, where he forced the victim to work, and forced her to work as a nanny and housekeeper in the home they shared. Law enforcement officials discovered the victim had been illegally smuggled to the Rio Grande Valley and that Gomez was holding her against her will. Gomez requested payment from family members in exchange for the victim being moved farther north, but they were unable to pay. Two days after learning of the victim’s plight, authorities located and recovered her.

Gomez remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Texas Alexa D. Parcell, Sherri Zack and Kim Leo prosecuted the case.

Last Updated: 06/26/2024
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