last month, six Texas men were sentenced to a combined
51 years in prison after an in-depth investigation
by the FBI and its law enforcement partners.
crime? Human trafficking. A form of modern-day
slavery, where human beings -- mostly women and
children -- are smuggled across borders, held against
their will, forced to work for little or nothing,
and often raped and brutalized.
this case, as in all such cases, the details are
hateful: Four Central American women agreed
to pay $5,000 -- half up front -- to be smuggled
into the U.S. They were taken across the border
into Texas, but the gang then demanded more money.
When they didn't pay, the women were forced into
lives of total servitude. By day, they worked as
unpaid domestic servants. At night, they became
the gang's sex slaves. All the while, their families
were extorted for more money.
were their captors caught? Two of the women
sought help from neighbors. The gang's leader --
Juan Carlos Soto -- found out and ordered his men
to kill the pair. The women were raped and beaten,
but later let go. They reported their stories to
law enforcement authorities, who searched the residence
and found the other two women.
investigation revealed that the gang was smuggling
some 100 illegal aliens each week into the U.S.
and that the family had been in the human trafficking
business since the early '80s. Two alleged members
of the gang -- Jose Luis Villa-Zavala and Hector
Soto, pictured above -- fled and are wanted by law
isolated case? Sadly, no. Human trafficking today
is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business, involving
nearly a million people each year, according to
a 2003 U.S. government estimate. Some 18- to 20,000
come into the U.S.
the FBI doing about it? Plenty.