Tulsa couple facing charges related to forced labor of a minor

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Wednesday charging a Tulsa couple with the forced labor and involuntary servitude of a minor victim.

Ronald Alexander Paz-Rodriguez (also known as Ronald Rodriguez-Paz), 36, and Eva Estrada Juarez, 29, are charged with obtaining forced labor; benefiting from forced labor; involuntary servitude; and trafficking with respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude, and forced labor.

“Labor trafficking is modern day slavery. It happens to adults. It happens to children. And it happens here in Oklahoma,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores. “Thankfully, we have dedicated Tulsa police officers and special agents with Homeland Security Investigations to investigate allegations involving the forcing of a minor child into involuntary servitude. Moving forward, the United States Attorney’s Office will present our case in federal district court where the evidence will be considered by a judge and jury.”

Starting in January 2019, Paz-Rodriguez and Juarez, are alleged to have arranged for the transport of the minor victim to Tulsa for the purpose of forced labor.

From July 1 to Dec. 13, 2019, the couple allegedly obtained labor and services from the minor by threatening the victim and by use of force, physical restraint, serious harm, and abuse of the law and legal processes. The minor believed if she did not perform these services she would suffer serious physical harm.

The return of an indictment is a method of informing a defendant of alleged violations of federal law, which must be proven in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome a defendant’s presumption of innocence.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, a fine not to exceed $250,000, and not more than 5 years of supervised release. They also face the possible forfeiture of any proceeds or property that was obtained as a result of the forced labor.

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