A married couple in Oceanside was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking Thursday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
Inez Martinez Garcia, 43, and her husband, Marcial Garcia Hernandez, 45, were arrested by officials as they left their home in Oceanside at around 7:20 a.m.
According to the sheriff’s department, both suspects have been charged with 13 felony counts of aggravated assault of a child under 14 years old.
Marisa Ugarte of the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, a non-profit that provides support to trafficking victims, said her organization brought the case to the Sheriff's Department because the victim wanted justice.
The alleged crimes happened in 2000.
The female victim in this case – who’s now an adult – came forward with allegations of forced labor and physical and sexual abuse by the Oceanside couple.
Deputies say the investigation revealed the girl was smuggled into the United States at the age of 12 with promises of a better life and receiving an education.
According to investigators, when the victim arrived at the Garcia household, she was allegedly forced to care for the couple’s three young children, cook and clean the house under constant threat of physical abuse.
Officials said that over the course of a 20-month period, the young girl was also forced to have sex with Marcial Garcia Hernandez.
When she refused to participate in the sex acts or didn’t complete her household labor in a timely manner she was beaten, said investigators.
The victim was also allegedly forced to lie about her age when the couple found work for the girl at a local restaurant. She had to turn over all of her wages to Inez Martinez Garcia, investigators said.
Over time, the couple also allegedly forced the girl into having sex with other older men for monetary gain.
Deputies say the Garcias’ arrest is the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year-old human trafficking cold case.
Neighbors said they lived in two different houses in Oceanside. Behind their current house was an illegal structure that allegedly housed immigrants with one room containing a mattress and some food.
Neighbors said they looked like a normal family, often holding parties inviting neighbors.
The couple was taken into custody by the Sheriff’s Vista COPPS Unit task force, Homeland Security investigators and Oceanside police.
Both suspects have been booked into the Vista Detention Facility. They are scheduled to appear in court on Monday, Dec. 3.