human trafficking

What is Human Trafficking Under Texas Law?

By Peek & Toland on September 12, 2019

Tex. Pen. Code § 20A.01(4) defines trafficking as transporting, enticing, recruiting, harboring, providing, otherwise obtaining another person by any means. Human trafficking typically occurs to engage in forced labor or commercial sex trade.

What is Human Trafficking Under Texas Law?

The offenses and penalties for human trafficking vary according to the age of person whom the accused persons allegedly trafficked. Under Tex. Pen. Code § 20A.02, it is illegal to knowingly take the following actions concerning anyone who is over the age of 18:

  • Traffic others with the intent for them to engage in forced labor or services
  • Receive a benefit from participating in a scheme to traffic others for forced labor or services, including by receiving labor or services that they know are forced
  • Traffic others and cause them by force, fraud, or coercion to engage in prostitution or other criminal offenses related to prostitution
  • Receive a benefit from participating in a scheme to traffic others for the purposes of prostitution or related criminal offenses, or engage in sexual conduct with a person whom they know has been trafficked

Tex. Pen. Code § 20A.02 also sets forth the criminal offense for trafficking with a minor. Prohibitions under this section are generally the same as those for an adult, except that it is also illegal to traffic minors to cause them by any means to engage in prostitution and various other sexual offenses. These offenses include continuous sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child, sexual assault, and sexual performance by a child, among others.

With a few exceptions, trafficking in humans will result in a second-degree felony charge. However, human trafficking becomes a first-degree felony if the person allegedly trafficked died during the commission of the offense, the person’s unborn child died during the commission of the offense, or the alleged trafficking involved a minor. The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including traffic-related charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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Immigrant Smuggling – Maintenance Worker Takes 500 Immigrants Through Austin

By Peek & Toland on November 28, 2016

Immigrant smuggling is defined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the importation of people into the United States as a way of deliberately evading the law.

The laws in question are immigration laws. The offense includes the bringing of illegal immigrants into the country and the unlawful transportation and harboring of immigrants who are already here illegally. ICE states some smuggling scenarios also include serious crimes like rape, murder, and assault.

Former school district worker is charged with immigrant smuggling

Recently, the TV news station KXAN reported on how a former school district maintenance worker from Austin and his wife smuggled more than 500 immigrants who lacked documentation into the United States from Mexico.

San Juana Valdez Menchaca, a 54-year-old woman, was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison. Her husband, 57-year-old Julian Perez Perez, received a sentence of 33 months. Perez is a former Austin Independent School District maintenance worker. The couple pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport undocumented aliens on July 7, 2016.

Couple Ran Elaborate Scheme for Immigration Smuggling

The report on KXAN said the couple ran an elaborate scheme. Smuggled immigrants would be sent to destinations across the country.

The Department of Justice said the couple was involved in immigrant smuggling for 10 years. They were finally arrested in April this year. The operation involved a network of co-conspirators from Mexico. They usually took the new arrivals across the border near Laredo and brought them into the Austin area. They were sent to final destinations in states including North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Virginia and Kentucky, ICE stated.

Investigators said the couple made millions of dollars from the scheme. Family members of the immigrants would deposit payments for immigrant smuggling into back accounts ran by the couple. They were ordered to pay $1.173 million – equivalent to the amount they obtained through the smuggling operation and $10,000 in fines. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ordered them to forfeit their home in Cedar Creek and more than $100,000 seized on the day they were arrested.

The arrests were the culmination of a joint investigation by Homeland Security Investigations agents and the Austin Police Department.

Alien or immigrant smuggling often crosses state lines and is investigated at a federal level. That means the penalties on conviction are very serious.

At Peek & Toland , our Austin immigrant smuggling attorneys will work meticulously to make sure you get a fair trial. We will look at any mitigating factors. You can read more about immigrant smuggling here.

If you are being investigated or have been charged by ICE, call us today for a consultation at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Immigration

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