Three Houstonians have been indicted for smuggling illegal aliens into the country and then forcing them to pay off their fees by selling bootleg DVDs and CDs.
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Estela Aguilar-Lopez, 47, Blanca Estela Lopez-Aguilar, 37, and Francisco Ivan Rodriguez-Garcia, 29, were indicted on charges of harboring illegal aliens and "conspiracy to force labor."
"The defendants conspired together to harbor undocumented aliens smuggled into the United States who then sold pirated compact discs (CDs) and digital video discs (DVDs) at Houston area apartment complexes provided by at least one defendant to pay smuggling fees of approximately $2,200," the U.S. Attorney's office says.
The trio also, court documents allege, "abused the undocumented aliens verbally and physically and used threats of force to compel the service of the undocumented aliens until their debts were paid."
From December 2006 to August 2010, aliens were held against their will in a house in the 10000 block of Woodico Court on the northwest side, prosecutors say. The aliens who were discovered there, prosecutors say, "are material witnesses in the case [and] will remain in the United States and receive assistance services during that stay pending trial of this case."