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US border patrol agent's sex assault against migrants alleged

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Border case sex assault alleged Honduran smuggling victim made allegation against patrol agent 01/04/2003 By TODD BENSMAN / The Dallas Morning News FORT WORTH
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2003
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      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
      investigations unit.

      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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