Human Rights First's Most Wanted Traffickers: Amparo Altagracia Montas Hernandez and Eddy Vazquez
By Gabriella Rufo
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 benefitted, 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.
The FBI is currently in pursuit of wanted criminals, Amparo Altagracia Montas Hernandez and her son, Eddy Vazquez. The two are wanted for crimes involving harboring of illegal aliens, and subsequent flight to evade prosecution. Montas Hernandez is the alleged owner and operator of several brothels in Southwest Florida and Vazquez is believed to have overseen the daily operations of one of the brothels. Montas Hernandez reportedly illegally employed undocumented Latin American women, who came to Montas Hernandez owing debts to human smugglers - also known as coyotes. She paid the coyotes to settle the debts of the women, and then forced them to pay off their debt to her by working as prostitutes.
In August 2005, a Federal Grand Jury charged the mother and son for harboring illegal aliens. Both Montas Hernandez and Vazquez appeared in court and were released on bond under the provision that they would report to a pretrial release officer. In September 2005, however, the pretrial release officer was alerted of Montas Hernandez and Vazquez’s flight from the area.
The two remain at large, but the FBI has identified possible locations where they might be. Montas Hernandez, who sometimes goes by her alias, Iris, has ties to the Dominican Republic, southwest Florida, New York, and Boston. Her son, Eddy Vazquez, also has ties to the Dominican Republic and southwest Florida, in addition to Lawrence, Massachusetts.
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 this exploiter and others like him to justice.