Human Rights First’s Most Wanted Traffickers: Rodger Galindo-Sepeda & Maria Isabel Cruz
By Sophie Kasakove
As part of its anti-trafficking campaign seeking to disrupt the slavery exploitation network, Human Rights First is calling for accountability and justice for individuals who benefit, or have benefited, from modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a human rights violation that involves holding another person in compelled service by force, fraud, or coercion. Traffickers profit from this practice by controlling their victims and exploiting them for labor and/or sex, generating an estimated $150 billion dollars in profits a year.
Rodger Galindo-Sepeda and Maria Isabel Cruz are wanted by the FBI for their involvement in the trafficking of more than 30 young women, some of whom were under the age of 18, from Honduras to the United States. Upon arriving in the United States, victims were quartered in safe houses with virtually no contact with the outside world.
After being forced to wear excessive makeup and immodest clothing, the victims were transported to clubs managed by Galindo-Sepeda and Cruz and forced to engage in prostitution in order to pay off their debts to the smugglers who brought them into the country. The victims were told that these debts amounted to between $7000 and $10,000. Women who refused to comply were threatened with being reported to the Immigration and Naturalization Service and imprisoned. Threats were also made against the victims’ families in Honduras.
Both Galindo-Sepeda and Cruz are Honduran nationals and are suspected to be currently living in Honduras. The FBI is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of Galindo-Sepeda and/or Cruz.
Human Rights First is working to reduce the incidence of trafficking by promoting policies to increase the risks, penalties, and punishments for those who exploit other human beings. While there are many important laws and policies in place to address human trafficking and protect victims of these horrific crimes, traffickers often operate with relative impunity. Please join us in calling on the U.S. government to bring these exploiters and others like them to justice.