US

Boy Kidnapped in Mexico, Brought Across Border by Human Traffickers, Prosecutor Says as 3 Charged

By Zachary Stieber

Three people were charged after police rescued a 9-year-old boy from human traffickers in Texas.

Authorities said that two men and a woman were involved in the trafficking scheme, which saw the boy being kidnapped in Mexico and taken across the border into San Antonio.

It was originally reported that the boy was kidnapped in downtown San Antonio.

The Department of Justice said that Elida Kassandra Moreno, a 26-year-old American citizen residing in Piedras Negras, Mexico, was pulled over in Batesville, Texas, on July 30. She was taken to a nearby office for questioning and disclosed to investigators that she was approached by a friend’s neighbor in Piedras Negras to transport a boy to his family in San Antonio while using her own son’s birth certificate in exchange for $1,700.

“Moreno and the child crossed into the U.S. through Eagle Pass, rented a hotel room in Eagle Pass, then took a shuttle van the next day to San Antonio,” the department stated.

Victor Manuel Monsivais, a 65-year-old San Antonio resident, and Nery Uriostegui Dominguez, a 26-year-old resident of Mexico, who were each charged with conspiracy to transport an illegal alien, then allegedly got involved.

“While in San Antonio, Moreno claims the friend’s neighbor told her to meet Uriostegui at Santa Rosa Park, collect $2,500 from him and deliver the child. Subsequently, Moreno said her friend’s neighbor told her not to hand over the child and a struggle between Moreno and Uriostegui ensued. SAPD officers arrived at the scene and took Uriostegui into custody. Moreno subsequently, at her friend’s neighbor’s bidding, met her father, Monsivais, at a truck stop on I-35 South in San Antonio and delivered the child to him,” authorities said.

“The complaint states that last night, Esquivel, under [law enforcement] supervision, contacted Monsivais and offered to pick up the child from him. They mutually decided to meet at a location near Military Dr. and Goliad in San Antonio. When Monsivais arrived, [Homeland Security Investigations] agents arrested him and took custody of the child.”

Moreno, the American living in Mexico, was charged with conspiracy to transport an illegal alien, bringing an illegal alien into the U.S. for profit, and making a false statement to a federal agent.

While a mugshot was released for Dominguez, authorities did not release booking photographs of Moreno or Monsivais.

SBG previously reported that police officers searching for the boy located him inside a car outside of an H-E-B grocery store in San Antonio.

The suspect was trying to sell the boy in Laredo or Eagle Pass, it reported.

According to KSAT, Monsivais was arrested at H-E-B. He told agents he was “doing a favor for his daughter who was in Mexico.” He also claimed he wasn’t getting paid for his role in the operation but agents found several “money service business receipts in his vehicle.”

If convicted, the defendants face up to ten years in federal prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 for the conspiracy charge. Moreno also faces up to ten years in federal prison for bringing an undocumented immigrant into the U.S. for profit and up to five years in federal prison for making a false statement to a federal official.

Trafficking in Texas

Texas was ranked first in the nation in 2018 for the number of active criminal human trafficking cases making their way through the federal court system, according to a report (pdf) recently released by the Human Trafficking Institute. Federal courts convicted 45 defendants in the state last year.

There were 74 active cases in the state, including 68 involving sex trafficking, the institute stated. Texas also ranked first in the country, along with New York, with 19 new criminal human trafficking cases; the national average was five per state.

Nationally, there were 171 new cases, 297 new defendants, and 346 convictions.

The convictions leveled 135 months in prison per defendant on average. Cases took on average 26 months to resolve.

While most criminal cases involved sex trafficking, most civil cases involved labor trafficking.