McALLEN, Texas – Two Edinburg residents have pleaded guilty to benefitting from forced labor, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
From June 24, 2021 until July 8, 2021, Eduardo Javier Gomez, 32, and his former partner Margarita Alvarez, 40, benefitted from a victim’s free labor which allowed the couple to have gainful employment. In addition, Gomez additionally earned money from a fireworks stand where the victim provided free labor.
“Labor traffickers care about only one thing - money,” said Hamdani. “Those subjected to domestic servitude are robbed of their dignity and freedom. Thankfully, this victim was rescued quickly thanks to the efforts of law enforcement. Now, this couple will pay the price for their despicable crimes and we can begin to bring some closure to the victim.”
Law enforcement discovered that the victim had been illegally smuggled to the Rio Grande Valley. Gomez was holding her against her will. Gomez was requesting further payment from family members in exchange for the victim being moved further north. When the family was unable to pay, the victim’s phone was taken and she was forced to work as a nanny and housekeeper in the home Gomez and Alvarez shared. The victim also was forced to work in a fireworks stand Gomez managed.
The victim was never paid.
Two days after learning of the victim, authorities were able to locate and rescue her.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa accepted the pleas and has set sentencing for May 9. At that time, the former couple faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
Eduardo Javier Gomez has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing, while Margarita Alvarez was permitted to remain on bond.
Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eliza Carmen Rodriguez, Sherri Zack and Kim Leo are prosecuting the case.