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Press Release

Local couple sentenced after benefitting from forced labor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas – Two Edinburg residents have been sentenced following their admissions of benefitting from a victim’s free labor which allowed the couple to have gainful employment, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Eduardo Javier Gomez, 32, and his former partner Margarita Alvarez, 42, pleaded guilty March 1, 2023.

U.S. District Chief Judge Randy Crane has now imposed a 70-month-term of imprisonment for Gomez, while Alvarez received two years of probation. Gomez must also serve three years of supervised release following his sentence.

From June 24 until July 8, 2021, Gomez and Alvarez benefitted from a victim’s free labor which allowed the couple to have gainful employment. Gomez also earned money from a fireworks stand where the victim provided free labor.

Law enforcement discovered 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 couple took the victim’s phone and forced her to work as a nanny and housekeeper in the home Gomez and Alvarez shared. Gomez also managed a fireworks stand where she forced the victim to work.

They never paid her.

Two days after learning of the victim, authorities were able to locate and rescue her.

Gomez has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexa D. Parcell, Sherri Zack and Kim Leo prosecuted the case.

Updated June 24, 2024

Human Smuggling