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| Crime |

In Garland, a Family Enslaved a Mexican Woman and Her Children for Seven Years

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On the evening of July 13, 2010, a 36-year-old woman checked into the emergency room of Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett. She was suffering from a painful infection on her left leg, the result of untreated poison ivy, but that was relatively low on her list of concerns. As she explained that night to the hospital staff, then to law enforcement officers, she and her school-age children had spent the last seven years as a Garland family's de facto slaves.

A subsequent investigation by a local human trafficking task force confirmed the woman's story. She'd been held at a home in the 4400 block of Pine Ridge Drive, near the intersection of Plano Road and Walnut Street, by a woman named Josefina Carleton and her common-law husband, Cristobal Zanella Farjardo. She did all the housework, yard work and cooking. She did late-night janitorial work at office buildings Carleton had been contracted to clean. She did construction work at houses Carleton's daughter and son-in-law were remodeling.

The woman was never paid for her work, receiving only food, shelter and some clothes as compensation.

Her kids, too, were made to work. Her daughter, 10 years old at the time the woman first talked to police, was forbidden from going to school, forced instead to care for Carleton's grandkids. Her son, 12, was allowed to attend school but was forced to go clean office buildings at night. Both bore scars from suspected child abuse.

Carleton denied all of this. So did Farjado. When the pair was arrested at their home in August 2012, more than two years after the hospital visit, Farjado told detectives that the woman wasn't a slave so much as a willing volunteer. They frequently left her alone. Had she truly been a captive, wouldn't she have escaped, or at least used a telephone to call for help?

But as investigators pointed out, she was never left alone with her kids. To flee, she would have had to leave them behind. Also, by Farjado's own admission, she knew no one outside the house she could call for help. The woman's story -- that Carleton had threatened to call police and have her deported back to Mexico if she left -- made much more sense.

So, Carleton and Farjado, along with Carleton's daughter Elsa Marquez, and Marquez's common-law husband, Francisco Perez-Espinosa, were charged with human trafficking.

The Dallas County District Attorney's office announced Monday afternoon that a four-day trial for Carleton and Farjado resulted in a hung jury, with 10 jurors judging them guilty and two saying not guilty.

To avoid a second trial, Carleton and Perez-Espinosa pleaded guilty to human trafficking. Carleton agreed to a five-year prison sentence. Perez-Espinosa will get two years. Marguez and Farjado's cases are still open, according to Dallas County court documents.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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