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Mission bar owner and son sentenced after forcing migrants into sex work

2 months 3 weeks 23 hours ago Friday, December 08 2023 Dec 8, 2023 December 08, 2023 5:18 PM December 08, 2023 in News - Local

A Mission bar owner and her son were sentenced to federal prison after confessing to forcing a teen migrant into sex work at her business, according to a news release.

Both individuals will also have to pay a combined $860,000 to the migrant girl, and seven other victims, according to a Friday news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Rita Martinez, 65, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of children on June 30. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

As part of her guilty plea, Martinez confessed to arranging for the male patrons of her cantina — Rita’s Sports Bar — to have sex with the teen from the spring of 2005 to the fall of 2006.

According to previous reports, the victim lived in Martinez’s home. Martinez accepted money from the patrons and applied it to the cost of the victim’s fee for the transportation from Mexico into the United States.   

Martinez’s son — 41-year-old Genaro Fuentes — also pleaded guilty to the same charge in January and confessed to working at the bar to facilitate the sex work. He was sentenced to six years in prison, the release added.

Eight victims, including a woman who was only 12 years old when Martinez brought her from Mexico and started trafficking her as a sex worker in her cantina, provided testimony during the hearing.

According to U. S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani, Martinez spent decades traveling to Mexico to entice young girls to come with her across the border “with false promises of a better life,” and then force them to engage in sex work with her bar’s male patrons.

“Martinez treated the victims like chattel, while physically and psychologically imprisoning them,” Hamdami stated in the news release. “Today’s sentence ensures the only person left imprisoned, for decades to come, is Martinez — and sends a strong message to human traffickers moonlighting as bar owners: you’re next.”

Martinez and Fuentes will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Martinez’s bar and her home where she forced the migrants to live in were forfeited by the court. 

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