Human Rights First's Most Wanted Traffickers: Mario Antunez-Sotelo
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 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.
Mario Antunez-Sotelo is wanted by the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for forced labor, as well as harboring and smuggling illegal aliens for financial gain in 2006. His wife, Gloria Eugenia Leon-Aldana, was convicted in 2008 for these crimes, but Antunez-Sotelo is still at large. He reportedly held undocumented immigrants at two homes located in Logan Heights, San Diego where he threatened the victims and their families with physical harm, and seized their identity documents to prevent them from escaping.
Antunez-Soltelo is a Mexican national and has ties to criminal organizations in Los Angeles and Tijuana, Mexico. He is affiliated with an alien smuggling organization that transports undocumented immigrants into the United States. The organization accrues finances from this smuggling and forced labor, which its members enforce through threats of harm and death. Antunez-Sotelo is expected to possess firearms and is very dangerous.
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.