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Orange County

Woman in Sex-Slave Case Skips Hearing

March 24, 2004|Mai Tran | Times Staff Writer

A woman charged with smuggling Mexican women into the United States and forcing them to work as prostitutes at motels near Disneyland has jumped bail, officials said Tuesday.

Maria De La Luz Menjivar, 43, of Wilmington failed to appear in court for a hearing last week, prompting a judge to issue an arrest warrant, Anaheim Police Sgt. Rick Martinez said.

Menjivar was arrested Feb. 4 after three women reported the alleged sex-slave ring to police. Officers conducted a sting operation at the Econo Lodge Anaheim and arrested Menjivar, who posted $100,000 bail.

Menjivar is accused of paying smugglers $1,200 to $1,500 to bring each woman into the U.S. and offering the women assurances of house-cleaning jobs so they could repay her.

But after they crossed the border, Menjivar forced them into prostitution at Anaheim tourist-area motels and threatened to tell their families if they refused to work, Martinez said.

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