DALLAS, Texas–The arrests of two suspected sex traffickers were made public at a press conference in El Paso at the Mexican border. One of the accused was a volunteer at a middle school for the Ysleta Independent School District (ISD). The alleged victim is an underage student in the same district.
Adam Deswan Guzman, 41, had been charged with two counts of the sex-trafficking of a 16 year-old Ysleta High School student. In March, he was indicted on those two counts. Then, in April, he was arrested by the FBI. Meanwhile, former Parkland Middle School volunteer Ysleta ISD, Marvin DeWayne Caster, 47, was also arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting the same minor, KVIA, ABC 7, reported based on court documents.
The relationship between the under-aged girl and Guzman, who also went by the names Adam Chavez or Swan, stemmed from an ad that the girl answered on Backpage, a free online advertisement site. The victim had told Ysleta High School officials that Guzman posted escort ads offering her for sexual services, according to KFOX 14, El Paso. The reason why she answered the ad in the first place was not stated.
“The FBI confirmed Guzman paid for the Backpage.com post” that the girl answered. KFOX 14 also reported that she was working under Guzman, “a man accused of sex-trafficking children in El Paso.
In “Affidavit Details Disturbing Events Involving YISD Student in Sex Trafficking Case,” the El Paso Times reported that previously Guzman had allegedly forced two underaged girls into prostitution, according to court records.
KFOX 14 cited in the same report that the teenaged girl’s “meeting places with Guzman was the Lone Star Inn, where she would wait for incoming calls” in response to Guzman’s placed escort service post. Caster, the Ysleta ISD after-school program volunteer, responded to Guzman’s ad for the 16 year old girl.
“An arrest affidavit KFOX 14 obtained said that Caster had met with the 16 year-old girl at his apartment where they engaged in sexual acts.” The affidavit also stated that “the victim told authorities she had been performing sexual acts for money for Guzman,” according to KFOX 14.
These arrests followed an FBI investigation into sex trafficking in the South Texas Ysleta ISD since December 2012 yet some school officials were clueless of a prostitution ring right under their noses.
The El Paso Times reported that key school district officials had no idea of the federal investigation involving middle and high school aged students until they read about it in the newspaper. That may be because Ysleta ISD superintendent Xavier De La Torre acknowledged that, although unaware of the investigation, the district was also “following orders from the FBI to not disclose any information,” according to the article.
This appeared to be corroborated by a statement from Ysleta ISD officials who did acknowledge they were aware of the investigation. They said: “Due to student confidentiality laws, the Ysleta Independent School District is prohibited from disclosing specific details of the alleged underage prostitution ring currently under investigation by the FBI.”
Also, the statement clarified that Ysleta High School officials were the only ones notified in late 2012 that an investigation was underway. Neighboring El Paso, Clint and Canutillo ISDs told the El Paso Times that they had not been contacted by the FBI and Socorro ISD officials did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Nonetheless, this explained why so many school district officials were seemingly left in the dark. De La Torre said that the district wouldn’t take any actions until the FBI completed its investigation.
Although the FBI declined to comment on the case because of the continuing nature of the investigation, the task force did announce that they also rescued eight sex trafficking victims as part of a national operation during the previous week called Operation Cross Country, started as part of theInnocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003, the El Paso Times also reported in “FBI investigating prostitution ring at YISD.”
Operation Cross Country investigates child sex trafficking and seeks to identify and recover victims throughout the United States. Their efforts have lead to the recovery of 168 victims and the arrest of 281 sex traffickers, the article stated.
“Sex trafficking is prevalent throughout the country,” said Douglas Lindquist, special agent in charge of the local FBI office, according to the El Paso Times.
“Here in El Paso, being in a border city we have probably more than the average just because of the interest in traveling to Juarez and other places that like to engage in this criminal conduct with minors. In El Paso proper, I think it’s probably average, no more or less than some of the other jurisdictions. Butgive the proximity to the border, some of that goes back and forth,” Lindquist said.
Previously, John Martin, executive director for the Paso del Norte Center of Hope, an outreach organization that works to fight child sex trafficking in local schools pointed out that the most vulnerable to sex traffickers are the “poor, young and the immigrant,” according to EAG News.
Given all the poor, young and immigrant in El Paso, coupled with the tumult going on with the glut of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) flooding into the state, this becomes one more thing to be mindful of in South Texas.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.