Jacksonville Woman Pleads Guilty To Smuggling Mexican National Into The United States For Purposes Of Forced Labor And Surrogacy
Jacksonville, FL – Acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announces that Esthela Clark (47, Jacksonville) today pleaded guilty to a charge of forced labor. She faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
According to the plea agreement, Clark paid so-called “coyotes” approximately $3,000 to smuggle a woman from Mexico into the United States for the purpose of serving as her pregnancy surrogate. Clark assured her victim that the surrogacy would be medically supervised. Clark instead forced her victim to engage in domestic labor through physical and psychological abuse. She attempted to impregnate the victim using syringes containing Clark’s boyfriend’s sperm that she had retrieved from used condoms. The attempts at insemination lasted approximately nine months, however, no pregnancy resulted.
Clark isolated the victim from her family and limited her to a diet consisting exclusively of beans, resulting in a 65-pound weight loss. She also attempted to collect from the victim’s family the cost she had paid to the “coyotes,” with interest.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.