Ricardo Contreras and Regino Sanchez are charged with attempting to smuggle an 18-year-old Guatemalan woman into Lantana, Florida under the state’s new law against human trafficking.
Police say the woman’s parents, who live in Boynton Beach, Fla., paid the men to bring their daughter into the United States. But when there was an argument in the parking lot where they met to make the final transaction, after which the men sped away with the teen in the car. Her parents worried she might be sold for slave labor.
A federal anti-trafficking act that took effect in 2000 doubled the penalty for trafficking from 10 years to 20 years to life. But federal law enforcement agencies had their hands full with targeting terrorism following 9/11 and were less likely to focus on human trafficking. Florida enacted its own state law to increase the penalty.
Under the new Florida law, Contreras and Sanchez face sentences as long as 30 years if convicted.