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Press Release

Texas Mother and Son Sentenced for Sex Trafficking of a Minor

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A Mexican woman who legally resided in Mission, Texas, and her son, who is a U.S. citizen, were sentenced today for sex trafficking a young girl.

Rita Martinez, 65, was sentenced to 360 months in prison, ordered to pay over $840,000 in restitution and surrender her house and bar to the government. Genaro Fuentes, 41, Martinez’s son and co-defendant, was sentenced to 72 months in prison and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution.

“The Justice Department is committed to identifying and prosecuting parasitic commercial sex traffickers, like the defendants here, who use the promise of America to lure vulnerable women and children into the United States and then coerce them into commercial sex acts,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We will focus the full force of our legal authority on preventing and punishing human trafficking and seeking restitution for the victims of these heinous crimes.”

“Martinez’s decades-long business model was simple yet evil: travel to Mexico, entice poor, young girls across the border with false promises of a better life and then force those girls to engage in sexual acts with her bar’s male patrons,” said U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani for the Southern District of Texas. “Martinez treated the victims like chattel, while physically and psychologically imprisoning them. Today’s sentence ensures the only person left imprisoned, for decades to come, is Martinez and sends a strong message to human traffickers moonlighting as bar owners: you’re next.”

“Today’s sentence will ensure that people like Rita Martinez are no longer able to victimize anyone in vulnerable or desperate circumstances,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Olson for the FBI San Antonio Division. “We want to thank our partners in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) for their continued assistance in bringing predators like this to justice.”

According to court documents, Martinez operated a bar known at various times as Perez Lounge, Rita’s Lounge and Rita’s Sports Bar. From the spring of 2005 to the fall of 2006, the 16-year-old young girl lived with Martinez and worked at the bar. Martinez arranged for the young girl to engage in commercial sex acts with men who were customers at the bar. Martinez also accepted money from these clients before allowing them to take the young girl out of the bar to engage in commercial sex. Martinez applied the money she received from commercial sex buyers to the smuggling debt that she imposed upon the minor victim to transport her from Mexico into the United States.

The FBI San Antonio Field Office, McAllen Resident Agency investigated the case, with the assistance of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Trial Attorney Kate Hill of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura Garcia and Sherri Zack for the Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case. 

Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report that information to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about human trafficking, please visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org. Information on the Justice Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.

Updated December 8, 2023

Topic
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 23-1393