A 52-year-old woman accused of forcing six migrants into manual labor for low wages was arrested after being caught in the act by undercover investigators, according to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
Rosita Lira was booked Wednesday on six counts of human trafficking, all second-degree felonies, according to Bexar County court records.
Deputies served a warrant several weeks ago in the 1600 block of Hillcrest for possible smuggling or drug use. However, when they arrived, Salazar said they were unable to locate Lira or any evidence of the alleged crimes.
A few days ago, Salazar said investigators were notified that Lira was active again and set up undercover surveillance.
An undercover investigator located Lira and approached her. She had three young men — migrants from Venezuela — with her, according to Salazar.
The investigator asked Lira how much it would be to get some work done at a house, and she gave him a price, Salazar said.
When they all arrived at the home, investigators revealed themselves to Lira and separated her from the migrants.
Salazar said the migrants had been forced into manual labor for long hours and were paid “slave wages” for their work. Their hands were injured and they were paid an estimated $100 between them all for one week’s worth of work, the sheriff said.
Three more migrants were found at another location, working hard labor jobs under Lira as well, Salazar said. Lira was later taken into custody and charged.
The six migrants are not facing any criminal charges and were taken to a shelter.
“As we’re seeing these folks come here from different countries… unfortunately people are abusing of these folks, taking advantage of them,” Salazar said. “Not only are they putting them to work illegally, they’re taking advantage of them and outright abusing them.”
At last check, Lira is still being held in the Bexar County Jail.