US border patrol agent's sex assault against migrants alleged
- Border case sex assault alleged
Honduran smuggling victim made allegation against patrol agent
By TODD BENSMAN / The Dallas Morning News
FORT WORTH - During sentencing Friday for six people caught smuggling
Honduran women into Fort Worth, a federal judge said he could not ignore
new allegations that a U.S. Border Patrol agent sexually assaulted one of
the young victims.
The allegation, contained in a classified FBI agent's account of interviews
with one of the young women, became a factor in the punishment for the
smugglers, who had pleaded guilty to running a trafficking operation that
supplied at least 50 undocumented female workers to a half-dozen Fort Worth
bars between December 1998 and May 2002.
Defense attorneys argued unsuccessfully in court that the allegation should
not be considered in U.S. District Judge John McBryde's sentencing.
According to an FBI document, one of the Honduran women said that a Border
Patrol agent assaulted her while she was briefly in his custody and that he
told her to "keep her mouth shut" if she wanted to live. The woman also
told agents that Mexican jailers raped her during the trek north to Fort
None of the names of those involved was included in the report.
"It's undisputed that there were injuries as a result of this criminal
activity and that it was bodily injury," the judge said in overruling the
objections of defense attorneys and extending the sentences of the
defendants by several months.
Judge McBryde sentenced Steven Flores to 27 months in prison, Dino Antonio
Molina and his wife, Dilicia Suyapa Aguilar-Galindo, to 52 months, Ena
Susana Aguilar-Galindo to 52 months, Marco Antonio Sanchez to 63 months and
Maria De Los Angeles Galindo-Carrasco to 34 months.
All had agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to smuggle, transport and
harbor illegal immigrants rather than face trial and possibly much longer
prison sentences. After they are released, they face deportation and three
years of supervisory release. Others indicted on the same charges are being
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Roper, who prosecuted the case, said
information about the sexual assault was forwarded to the proper
authorities, including the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service,
which oversees the Border Patrol. He said he did not know what had become
of the allegation.
INS officials in Dallas were unavailable for comment Friday. Mario
Villarreal, a spokesman for the Border Patrol in Washington, D.C., said he
was unaware of the allegation and referred calls to the INS internal
Sue Armstrong, assistant director of the INS Office of Internal Audit in
Washington, said that she was unaware of the allegation but that she would
look into the matter. Her agency investigates misconduct among agents who
work for the INS and Border Patrol.
"If we're talking about a potential sexual assault, it will be taken
seriously," Ms. Armstrong said. "We will check into it ... that there is a
proper investigation into this allegation."
Last May, federal agents raided a series of bars and private residences,
breaking up what authorities at the time believed was a sex slavery ring.
Authorities were never able to substantiate whether any of the victims,
including girls as young as 14, were being forced into prostitution, which
could have resulted in more serious federal charges for those who ran the
Most of the ringleaders were instead accused of creating an efficient
illegal smuggling business in which impoverished Honduran families were
charged thousands of dollars each to transport their daughters to
well-paying jobs in America. When families could not afford the smuggling
fees, the women were forced to work off loans in Fort Worth bars by
attracting male customers.
One of the defendants told Judge McBryde on Friday that he believed his
business helped poor women.
"I would only help people who were really in need," Mr. Sanchez said
through an interpreter. "I am a poor man among the poor."
Mr. Roper said he was pleased with the sentences but frustrated that
authorities could not substantiate whether some of the women were being
forced into prostitution. He said some families in Honduras had been
threatened with violence if the women testified.
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