Gloria Eugenia Leon-Aldana entered a guilty plea today to various charges related to the smuggling of illegal immigrants and forced labor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office just reported.

Leon-Aldana’s pleas relate to a people smuggling ring she and other criminals ran in 2006. Two other defendants have also pled guilty in the case.

Leon-Aldana was accused of running the smuggling ring, which recruited immigrants in Mexico, harbored them in San Diego and then entered them into forced labor to pay for their smuggling fees. The U.S. Attorney’s Office reports that Leon-Aldana threatened to report at least one immigrant to the Border Patrol if he refused to work for her financial gain.

United States Attorney Karen P. Hewitt is quoted in a press release:

We are gratified to resolve an important case where persons were exploited under various threats. The compulsion of another’s labor in our jurisdiction is a serious crime that our office will continue to prosecute, no matter the legal status of the victim.

I’ve written a couple of stories about human smuggling, an issue that prosecutors and investigators say is becoming more serious every year.

In April I wrote this story about a human smuggling ring that was operating out of Escondido, and in December I wrote this piece about human smuggling by boat in the waters off San Diego.

WILL CARLESS

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