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August 8, 2016Fort Worth, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Federal jury convicts Fort Worth woman of forced labor, harboring illegal aliens

The Mexican woman ran a house cleaning business in Fort Worth and El Paso, and forced two Mexican women to work for her without pay for 14 years

FORT WORTH, Texas — Following a weeklong trial, a federal jury on Friday convicted a Fort Worth woman of labor trafficking two women that she illegally brought into the U.S. from Mexico and forced them, with threat of serious harm and physical restraint, to work for her without pay.

This conviction was announced by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.  This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Specifically, the jury convicted Olga Sandra Murra, 64, aka “Olga Sandra Capon-Meneses,” on all four counts of an indictment charging federal felony offenses — two counts of forced labor and two counts of harboring an illegal alien.  Each forced labor count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.  Each harboring count carries a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.  Following the verdict, U.S. District Judge Reed C. O’Connor remanded Murra into custody.  Her sentencing is set for Nov. 28.

The government presented evidence at trial that from her birth in 1952 to 1997, Murra lived in Mexico.  In 1997, Murra, her immediate family, and several other individuals she brought with her, including “V.R.,” a woman in her 30s, moved to El Paso, Texas, and then later to Fort Worth.  In 1998, Murra arranged for “I.G.,” a woman in her 20s, to be transported into the U.S.  Both V.R. and I.G. are Mexican citizens and both illegally entered and remained in the U.S.

From September 1997 to April 29, 2011, Murra kept one or both of the women at her various residences in El Paso and Fort Worth, and held their identification documents.

In both El Paso and Fort Worth, Murra operated a house-cleaning business.  She directed both V.R. and I.G. to work for her business, and both cleaned three to four homes per day up to seven days per week.  In addition, the women cleaned Murra’s residence and prepared meals for her.  Murra, however, did not pay either woman for this work.  In fact, Murra required the two women to give her all the money they earned cleaning houses.

Murra represented herself to the women as the voice of God on earth, and required them to listen to religious recordings of Murra reading Bible verses and discussing their meaning while they cleaned homes.  She caused both women to believe they would go to hell if they did not obey her.  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.

Murra also restricted the women’s freedom within her house, requiring at times they ask for permission to go to the bathroom.  Murra also prohibited them from talking to other individuals living at the residence.  Generally, the women slept on the bedroom floor in the residence.  But when she punished them, Murra required them to sleep in the garage, laundry room or backyard; she also restricted their food to bread and water.

In 2001, Murra provided I.G. with false identification documents and directed I.G. to work at McDonald’s and Walmart, in addition to working for her house-cleaning business.  I.G. worked for about one year at McDonald’s in 2001 and at Walmart for about six months in 2003.  Murra required I.G. to give all the checks she received to her, not allowing I.G. to keep any money she earned.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Allen-McCoy and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Wirmani are in charge of the prosecution.