Child sex trafficking suspects to remain jailed pending trial

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LEFT: Rita’s Sports Bar is seen on March 9, 2022, in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected]) TOP RIGHT: Rita Martinez BOTTOM RIGHT: Genaro Fuentes

A mother and son facing federal child sex trafficking charges for allegedly selling women and girls for sex from a Mission bar will remain detained pending the resolution of their cases.

On Feb. 23 a federal grand jury indicted Rita Martinez on 11 counts of sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion and Genaro Fuentes on six counts of the same charge.

They are accused of making smuggling arrangements for women and girls from the Mexican states of Durango and Coahuila to Hidalgo County from 1996 to 2019 under the guise of working in her restaurant or to clean houses.

However, when the girls and women arrived, Martinez informed them they owed her a smuggling debt and needed to pay it off by working in her bar at 7700 W. Mile 7 Road, which was called Rita’s Sports Bar and also known as Perez Lounge or Rita’s Lounge.

Rita’s Sports Bar is seen on March 9, 2022, in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

“After some days or weeks after each woman or girl began working at Martinez’s bar, Martinez would arrange for clients to take the woman or girl out of the bar to have commercial sex,” the indictment stated.

The indictment details allegations of beatings by Martinez and sexual assaults by Fuentes, as well as how federal prosecutors allege the women and girls were sold for sex.

The mother and son initially faced state charges after their 2019 arrests, but state prosecutors are not pursuing the charges now that federal prosecutors are taking the case.

The allegations in the state case are similar, but the federal charges are significantly different and more in number, federal Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker wrote in his order of detention for Fuentes.

In that order, Hacker notes that Fuentes is accused of committing the offenses with family members, including his mother and wife.

The status of a case against his wife isn’t immediately clear.

“The Government proffered what it believed to be Defendant’s role and further classified him as the ‘muscle’ of the operation,” Hacker wrote. “In addition to the sex trafficking allegations, Defendant was allegedly selling drugs at his mother’s local bar.”

The magistrate judge also notes that prosecutors allege that after his 2019 state arrest, Fuentes and his wife made attempts to track down and contact victims in the case to learn who was corroborating with prosecutors.

The prosecutors also allege that Fuentes was using drugs while out on bond in the state case.

Hacker’s order also took into account that Fuentes has significant ties outside of the United States; has a lack of financially responsible sureties; has a history of alcohol or substance abuse; has participated in criminal activity while on probation, parole or supervision; has prior criminal history; faces a long period of prison time if convicted; and that the weight of the evidence against Fuentes is strong.

As for Martinez, she waived her right to a detention hearing.

Both mother and son have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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