The District Attorney makes it clear in
the two counts filed against a long time restaurant employee and her
boyfriend. "Slavery'' and ‘' Trafficking''. The allegations are
the couple smuggled a 9-year-old girl into this country from El Salvador two
years ago, and since then forced her to work at least four days a week at Costa
Del Sol in Pacoima, and made her clean their house the other days.
real mother is apparently still in El Salvador and didn't know about this.
However, in the , small, busy restaurant, which has been serving it's
Salvadoran style meals for 24 years now, the owners told me those charges are
all wrong. In Spanish they said these charges are an injustice, that the
little girl was here with the consent of her family in El Salvador, that their
employee had legal papers to prove that, that she went to school nearby and was
in fourth grade, that she came to the restaurant after school and did her
homework and would help out when she was finished. Nothing was forced she
Of course the District Attorney's job is to file cases when they
believe they can convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt. They
are not sharing the evidence the LAPD gathered , or what went into their
decision to file the charges. The suspects are still behind bars.
We'll hear their story soon enough if and when this case comes to court.
As to the basic questions as to the whereabouts of the girl now, the DA's
earnest media relations team, most of them former reporters, never seems
to be able to reach the prosecutors to get back to us with answers to the many
questions that come up after they send out their press releases and make their
statements. Read all about the DA's office.
A restaurant owner who allegedly paid to have a 9-year-old girl smuggled into the country from El Salvador, then forced the child to work at her restaurant and in her home, pleaded not guilty today to one felony count each of human trafficking and slavery, as did her live-in boyfriend.
The Sylmar couple allegedly had the girl working for them for the last two years. Dora Alicia Valle, 50, and Estrada Melvin Sandoval, 40, are due back in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 29 for a hearing that will determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial on the two counts.
Valle allegedly paid to have the girl -- who is now 11 -- smuggled into the United States from El Salvador in 2012 and forced the youngster to work four days a week at her Costa Del Sol restaurant in Pacoima, according to Deputy District Attorney Ronald Goudy.
The girl was also allegedly ordered to clean the Sylmar home shared by Valle and Sandoval when she wasn't working at the restaurant. If convicted, Valle and Sandoval each face more than 12 years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.
"We will not allow our children to be treated as human commodities,'' District Attorney Jackie Lacey said. "Human trafficking must be stopped.''