Two arrested in South Texas on human trafficking charges

Two arrested in South Texas on human trafficking charges

News release from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission:

MISSION, Texas – Officers with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, in conjunction with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested two Hidalgo County residents on charges of human trafficking following a year-long joint investigation.

Margarita “Rita” Martinez, 61, and her son, Genaro Fuentes, 36, were arrested by TABC agents July 31. A Hidalgo County grand jury indicted Martinez on charges of human trafficking, 15 counts of aggravated sexual assault, 14 counts of sexual assault of a child and one count of manufacturing/delivering a controlled substance. The grand jury indicted Fuentes on charges of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of a child.

Martinez was the owner/operator of Rita’s Sports Bar in Mission. The investigation began after TABC received reports that young Hispanic females were allegedly being recruited by Martinez and forced to work in the bar. Subsequent investigation found evidence that the women were being trafficked and were subject to repeated sexual assaults.

The alcohol permit for Rita’s Sports Bar, 7700 W. Mile 7 Road, was cancelled by TABC as a result of the investigation.

As the state’s sole regulator of the alcoholic beverage industry, TABC is responsible for investigating organized crime with ties to any business licensed to sell, manufacture or distribute alcohol. The agency’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) frequently partners with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on long-term investigations involving human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, money laundering and other organized crime.

Since 2013, TABC has cancelled the alcohol permits of more than 100 Texas businesses accused of engaging in organized crime.

The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information about this case, or who suspects human trafficking at a TABC-licensed business is asked to contact TABC at (956) 374-2240 or 1-888-THE-TABC, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

There may be subtle signs of a life-threatening problem. Click here - for warning signs of human trafficking.

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