HOUSTON (FOX 26) - The long arm of the law finally caught up with the man who fled Houston and went into hiding in Mexico after he was charged with human trafficking in 2005. Now Gerardo Salazar says his 40-year prison sentence is unfair.
“He brought these girls over here in search of the American dream, that's what his promise was. Once they got here they ran into the American nightmare,” says Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez.
Salazar, who pled guilty to sex trafficking, told U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore he “never harmed any women”.
"Women,”Judge Gilmore shot back. “These are girls as young as 14. You have no remorse. He has learned nothing” Judge Gilmore she said turning to Salazar's attorney.
”He didn’t mean to offend the judge. My client is remorseful. I think there was a misunderstanding, not language, but simply articulating what he felt,” explains Salazar’s attorney Mario Madrid.
Perez says Salazar was the leader of a sex slave crime ring smuggling disadvantaged girls from Mexico to Houston by romancing or forcing them. The teens were beaten, raped and faced forced abortions.
“He threatened to shoot them, shoot her, not kill her but he would shoot her in the spine, cause her to be paralyzed and she would have to drag herself the rest of her life. Those are the types of threats he would make,” adds Perez.
As Salazar's two sons Ivan & Juan Carlos Salazar, two nephews Jose Luis Moreno Salazar & Angel Moreno Salazar and his long-time friend Salvador Fernando Molina Garcia were all prosecuted in 2005 for being part of the ring, Salazar went into hiding in Mexico. The five received five years behind bars. That was before a crack-down on human trafficking. Salazar, who was extradited back to the U.S. and then pleaded guilty in October 2015, was sentenced today to 40 years in prison.
”Times have changed. He didn't benefit from not being arrested in 2005. He wasn't the ring leader. These were all independent pimps, essentially doing the same thing, working together,” explains Madrid. Madrid says Salazar is “shocked and not happy with the sentence” and plans to appeal.
Perez hopes this will encourage sex slave victims to come forward and get help.
“We're here to rescue you. We're here to help restore you. We're here to protect you. We need the public's help in seeking these victims and getting information on these human traffickers and these modern day people who engage in slavery,” Perez says.
The prosecutor points out this predator now wants mercy, something he didn't give his victims.