Texas Mother Pleads Guilty after She Tried to Sell Her Son for $2,500 to Pay off Drug Debt
Esmeralda Garza, a mother of three from Texas, took a plea deal after admitting she tried to sell her son to pay off a drug debt. She was sentenced on Friday to six years behind bars, but may not serve the entire time.
Garza, a Corpus Christi resident, was arrested in June 2018 after a group of special agents from the Texas Department of Public Safety executed a drug search warrant in a house and found the boy.
There, a woman who was arrested for drug charges confessed she had bought the boy from Esmeralda for $2,500 to pay off a drug debt.
Officers later found out that Garza was also planning on selling her two other daughters, aged 2 and 3.
TRYING TO SOFTEN THE BLOW
Although Esmeralda had initially pleaded not guilty, she decided to take a plea deal last Monday, admitting to her crime to soften the blow of the sentence.
She was charged with three different counts of sale or purchase of a child, which are third-degree felonies. She was also charged with a fourth count for money laundering and a fifth count for conspiracy to commit sale or purchase of a child. Those are two state jail felonies, according to Assistant District Attorney Jenny Dorsey.
Garza was sentenced to six years for selling her son and two more for the rest of the charges. The sentences will run concurrently.
According to USA Today, Garza stated that she and her boyfriend owed drug money and she gave her child to a woman who paid $500 cash to clear the owed debt. They were supposed to receive an extra $700 when the "custody paperwork" was signed.
THE FATHER WAS BLINDSIDED
Roland Olivarez II, the boy's father, told KIIITV back in June that he wasn’t aware of the situation. "I never thought she would do this to my child,” he said.
Lucy Naranjo, the child’s aunt, added,
“He just trusted mom so much that he didn't think that anything like this would happen. You know, nobody would think something so ugly as this would happen."
Garza and Olivarez had been separated for seven years but shared the boy’s custody.
“Recently she had given him to my brother and said, 'Well, I can't handle him so here you go,' and my brother said okay. That's his son," Naranjo recalled. However, Garza went back in April to get the boy back, telling Olivarez that it was time for her to be a “mommy.”
“He trusted her. He let my nephew go. That was last time we got to see him," Naranjo said.
SHE GOT WHAT SHE DESERVED
First Assistant District Attorney Matt Manning hopes Garza’s case can set an example of what could happen to anyone who dares commit such an atrocious crime.
“It's very important to us that we send a very clear and unequivocal message: If you hurt children or have the audacity to sell a child, we're going to do all we can to hold you accountable and put you in prison where you belong,” he said.
However, Garza might have not to serve her entire six years, as she will be eligible for parole from the Texas Department of Corrections after a year and a half, but won't be considered for that until she serves the day for day state jail term of two years.
MOM ACCUSED OF TRYING TO SELL HER TWINS
Last month, a Colombian woman was arrested after her mother accused her of trying to sell her newborn twin babies.
Diana Marcela Forero reported her daughter, Sulay Andrea Vaquero to the Bogota Police after she left her home with all her belongings and her kids.
However, after police finally found her whereabouts, Vaquero argued that she had left home for her kids’ safety.
According to Forero, Sulay had been in touch with some buyers who even visited her home in the El Tejar neighborhood, west of Bogotá, and offered her money in exchange for the twins.
The grandmother of the children suspected that the buyers were going to sign the papers for the commercialization of the minors, but fortunately, the Childhood and Adolescence Police attended the complaint opportunely and began the search for the 20-year-old mother and her kids.
"The woman states that both she and her two children are in good health and that the reason for leaving their home is due to problems of coexistence with the grandmother of children," read a statement issued by the police.
THE HARSH REALITY OF CHILD TRAFFICKING
According to UNICEF USA, child victims of trafficking are recruited, transported, transferred, harbored or received for exploitation.
They may be forced to work on construction sites or in houses as domestic servants; on the streets as child beggars, in wars as child soldiers, on farms, in traveling sales crews or restaurants and hotels. Some are forced to work in brothels and strip clubs or for escort and massage services.
In the past years, a new phenomenon has been taking place on some Latin American countries, where the adoptions laws are so unstable that people take advantage of the situation and proceed to “adopt” or “buy” babies through illegal routes.
Only in 2017, the Ombudsman's office confirmed 22 cases of sale of children in the state of Sonora, northern Mexico, by officials in charge of child protection institutions.
Interested couples, most of them from the United States, paid for each of the children prices that ranged between 80,000 and 120,000 pesos (between $4,000 and $8,000), according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).
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