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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Jacksonville Woman Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison After Smuggling Mexican Woman To United States And Treating Her As A Domestic Slave And Uncompensated Pregnancy Surrogate

Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan today sentenced Esthela Clark (49, Jacksonville) to seven years in federal prison for forced labor. She faces deportation to Mexico upon completion of her sentence. The United States previously forfeited Clark’s 2003 Chevrolet Avalanche, which was used to facilitate the offense. Clark pleaded guilty on March 27, 2017.

According to evidence presented at the sentencing hearing, in late 2012, Clark traveled to Mexico, where she met her victim. She told the woman that she was searching for someone to serve as a pregnancy surrogate, and that the process would be medically supervised. The victim, a citizen of Mexico, agreed to serve as a surrogate for Clark in exchange for a payment of several thousand dollars once a baby was delivered.

Clark arranged for so-called “coyotes” to smuggle the victim across the border from Mexico into the United States; the victim ultimately arrived in Jacksonville in December 2012. Almost immediately, Clark began attempting to inseminate the victim using syringes containing her boyfriend’s sperm that she had retrieved from used condoms. This procedure was undertaken three to four times a day, on Clark’s dining room floor, when Clark believed her victim was fertile.

When, after several months, the victim did not become pregnant, Clark began forcing her to have unprotected sex with strangers. She also forced her victim to engage in domestic labor through physical and psychological abuse. On one occasion, after Clark believed that the victim had used too much bleach while cleaning, Clark forced the victim to sleep in a puddle of bleach on the floor.

She also isolated the victim from her family and limited her to a diet consisting exclusively of beans, resulting in a 65-pound weight loss.

“The victim in this case was rescued from unthinkable circumstances,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. “Now, the perpetrator will be held accountable, thanks to a concerned citizen, HSI special agents, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Border Patrol.”

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Border Patrol. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Immigration
Component(s): 
Updated June 4, 2018