Monday, August 15, 2005

Human trafficking: Authorities to travel to Guatemala

Representatives from the U.S. Attorney and sheriff's office may travel to the central American country to meet with officals there considering new legislation.

Ana MarĂ­a Monteagudo, consul general at the Guatemalan consulate in Miami, said plans are moving ahead for the trip, which could happen in mid-to-late September. Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Molloy and Sheriff's Office representatives both have been invited to talk with the minister of foreign affairs.

Anna Rodriguez, a Collier County-based victim advocate and expert in the area of human trafficking who has worked extensively with the Sheriff's Office on the issue, said she also expects to take the trip. Of the suspected trafficking cases the Lee County Sheriff's Office has uncovered in recent months, most have originated in Guatemala, said Rodriguez, who also is the founder of the Immigrant Rights Advocacy Center.

Most prominently, three Guatemalan nationals were arrested in May, accused of forcing a now 14-year-old girl from that country into household labor and sexual slavery after purchasing her from her family.


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