Over 20 people rescued from Fort Worth home in human trafficking case; 2 suspects arrested


Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Dec 23, 2022

Federal and state authorities rescued more than 20 people late Wednesday from a Fort Worth home during a human trafficking investigation. Two men who authorities believe had smuggled the people into Fort Worth were arrested at the scene. Seven women and a 3-year-old girl were in the group of migrants who came from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. They were released to members of the League of United Latin American Citizens, who paid for them to stay in hotel rooms so they wouldn’t be outside in the freezing weather, LULAC officials said in a news release.

One of the women told WFAA-TV that her husband, who worked as a street vendor in Honduras, was murdered by men who had been extorting money from him. The woman was afraid for her life and spent about a month walking to the U.S. through Mexico. “I wanted to come here to give my daughters a better life and for me to be safe,” the woman told WFAA.

“Our first task was to get them safely processed out of law enforcement custody and get them to housing where they could rest for a few hours,” said Hilda Duarte, LULAC district director in Dallas, in the news release. “Since then, we have worked to ensure they get medical help and essential basics and connect them to their family in the United States.”

LULAC also released video interviews with some of the migrants, who said they were brought to Fort Worth in a tractor-trailer packed full of people.

“There were so many of us packed in. It was very uncomfortable,” one person told WFAA-TV.

In the news release, LULAC national president Domingo Garcia said the people were stripped naked, unfed, cold and scared. The people had not eaten in two days; among them was one pregnant woman. Also, authorities found a 3-year-old still breastfeeding but whose mother could not nourish her child because she was out of milk from lack of food.

Fort Worth police said they received information that two suspects were involved in smuggling people into the city.

FBI agents and Fort Worth police went to the house in the 1800 block of Miller Avenue at about 9 p.m. Wednesday and found the people.

Two suspects were taken into custody and faces charges on the offense of smuggling of persons.

The suspects are 35-year-old Carlos Plata Ibarra and 33-year-old Gonzalo Ramirez.

Fort Worth police said Friday that the investigation is ongoing

One migrant said he was picked up by a “coyote,” who authorities believe is one of the suspects arrested. The migrant made the comment in a video interview with a LULAC official.

“Coyote” is a slang name for traffickers who smuggle people across the border.

LULAC officials said the migrants have been granted temporary immunity from deportation under the provisions of a Visa U which protects victims of alleged crimes.

LULAC national president Domingo Garcia encouraged residents across the country to alert them on human trafficking cases in any neighborhood. The LULAC national tipline is monitored 24/7 and can be reached at 202-833-6130.

Receive recent news from the League
of United Latin American Citizens.

Become an eMember!