TABC Seeking Public's Help in Mission-area Human Trafficking Case
MISSION, Texas – A bar owner arrested July 31 following a joint investigation by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the FBI has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges including human trafficking.
Rita Martinez, 61, remains in jail in lieu of a $2.8 million bond following her arraignment in a Hidalgo County courtroom Wednesday afternoon. She faces 31 separate charges including human trafficking, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault of a child and delivery of a controlled substance.
Martinez and her son, 36-year-old Genaro Fuentes, were arrested by TABC agents following a year-long investigation into suspected human trafficking at a bar operated by the pair. The bar, Rita's Sports Bar, has since been closed by TABC while the investigation continues.
TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said the agency's investigators are asking the public to come forward with information about the case as well as help identify potential victims.
"While these arrests mark a significant milestone in this case, our job is not over," Nettles said. "We have strong reason to believe there are multiple victims still unaccounted for whose testimony could play a vital role in ensuring justice is served. We're counting on the public to help us bring this case to a successful conclusion."
TABC has long played a critical role in stopping organized criminal elements from using licensed alcohol retailers as fronts for human trafficking and other illegal activity, Nettles added.
"Human trafficking has no place in Texas, particularly in our state's licensed bars and alcohol retailers. Our goal at TABC is nothing less than the complete eradication of human trafficking within the businesses we regulate. This case puts traffickers on notice: If you bring your illegal activity into Texas, our investigators will find you and put you behind bars for a very long time," he said.
Anyone with information about this case, or who knows a potential victim, is asked to contact TABC at (956) 374-2240.
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Media Contact:Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462