A Mexican woman living in Texas has been convicted of labor trafficking two women she brought illegally to the United States from Mexico and forcing them to work for her, without pay, for about 14 years.
According to the Justice Department, late Friday a federal jury convicted Olga Sandra Murra aka “Olga Sandra Capon-Meneses”— a 64 year-old woman who immigrated to the U.S from Mexico in 1997 — on two counts of forced labor and two counts of harboring an illegal alien.
Prosecutors explained how Murra illegally brought “V.R.” — a Mexican woman in her 30s — with her when she first moved to the U.S. and a year later, in 1998, arranged for another Mexican woman, “I.G.” to be illegally brought to the U.S. as well.
Murra kept the women from 1997 and 1998 to April 2011 — holding one or both of them and their identification documents — in El Paso and Fort Worth, where she used V.R. and I.G. as employees in her housecleaning business.
The Justice Department said that Murra forced the women to clean three to four houses a day. When they received pay for the work, Murra confiscated it. V.R. and I.G. were also required to clean Murra’s personal residence and prepare her meals.
In holding them, Murra sought to convince I.G. and V.R. that she was a voice of God, requiring the pair to listen to recordings of her reading and explaining the meaning different Bible verses as they worked.
“She caused both women to believe they would go to hell if they did not obey her,” the Justice Department explained in a press release. “Murra threatened at least one of the women that if she disobeyed her, she would contact immigration and the woman would be buried in a field with other illegal aliens. Murra also struck at least one of the women.”
While staying in Murra’s residence, I.G. and V.R. were not allowed to use the restroom without permission or to speak with other people living there. Their nutritional intake was also restricted and limited to bread and water. Additionally, I.G. and V.R. were made to sleep on the bedroom floor, unless they were being punished, in which case they would be forced to sleep in the garage, laundry room or backyard.
In a couple instances, Murray also forced I.G. to use false documents and work for McDonald’s (for a year in 2001) and Walmart (for six months in 2003). Murra would then confiscate all the checks I.G. received.
Each count of forced labor carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine and each count of harboring an illegal alien carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Murra has been remanded to federal custody and will face sentencing in late November. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).