MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — An Edinburg couple, that has since separated, pleaded guilty to forcing a migrant woman to work for them in their home, U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced.
Eduardo Javier Gomez, 32, and his former partner Margarita Alvarez, 40, admitted to holding a woman against her will and requesting further payment from her family members in exchange for the victim being moved further north, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.
When the family was unable to pay, the woman’s phone was taken and she was forced to work as a nanny and housekeeper in the home Gomez and Alvarez shared, according to the release. She was also forced to work in a firework stand Gomez managed.
She was never paid for her work, authorities said.
Law enforcement discovered that the victim had been illegally smuggled to the Rio Grande Valley. According to the release, law enforcement was able to locate and recover the victim two days after learning about the situation. Gomez and Alvarez held the woman in their home between June 24 and July 8, 2021.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa accepted the former couple’s pleas and has set a sentencing date for May 9 where the two could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
Gomez has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing. Alvarez was permitted to remain on bond, the release stated.