Teenage girl claims smuggler took her as payment

Alberto Villanueva (MDC)

A teenager from Honduras told police in June that her father left her with his friend – a smuggler – as payment for getting the family into the United States before the man took her to Albuquerque and does not rape her regularly.

Alberto Villanueva, 44, is charged with three counts of criminal sexual penetration and two counts each of child abuse and bribery of a witness in the case. Villanueva was arrested in July and is currently behind bars at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

An unsealed federal search warrant this week outlined the FBI’s investigation into the case, and documents filed in state court provided some of the other details.

Charlie Moore-Pabst, spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families, said the agency knows the girl’s whereabouts and that she is safe “at this time.”
Moore-Pabst said no further details could be released as it was a trafficking case.

On June 17, 2021, an Albuquerque police detective was contacted by the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth, and Families regarding the sexual assault of a Del Norte High School student. The 16-year-old told police she was originally from Honduras and had been in the city for a few months.

The girl reported the abuse to a teacher after being encouraged by a friend and the teacher informed the CYFD, according to court records. A CYFD investigator found a “State of Texas Power of Attorney over Child” form signed by her father and awarding guardianship to Villanueva.

During a sexual assault examination, the teenager pointed to years of abuse from Villanueva, with whom she lived in an apartment complex near the school. The teenager said she had known Villanueva, a friend of her father, since she was 13 and they all lived in Honduras.

The girl told authorities that he had raped her regularly since then and also forced her to send him nude photos and videos. She said that in April, she and her father met Villanueva in Piedras Negras, Mexico, and he smuggled them into the United States.

The girl told police she thought she would go live with an aunt in Texas, but instead her father left for Tennessee and Villanueva brought her to Albuquerque. The girl said Villanueva was a smuggler and her father owed her $30,000 for their crossing into the country.

“She believed that she herself had to serve Villanueva as a form of payment,” the federal search warrant affidavit states.

Authorities said Villanueva took her passport, birth certificate and other documents. The teenager said she didn’t know anyone in town, and Villanueva never allowed anyone into the apartment and threatened to hurt her and her parents “if she didn’t obey him”.

The girl told a sexual assault examiner that Villanueva would rape her twice a day, give her a pill beforehand and withhold food if she refused, court records show. She said she reported the abuse to her aunt in Texas, who told her “not to come if she was pregnant.”

Police said the girl told them that the day before she was reported, Villanueva choked her and threw her against a wall for trying to resist her advances.

During the examination for sexual assault, Villanueva called the girl several times and texted her numerous times when she did not answer. Then, according to authorities, her father called her and told her that she was lying about Villanueva, that she “belonged to (Villanueva)” and that he was “going to get in trouble for no reason.”

Authorities said a nurse overheard the conversation, which ended with the father saying he and Villanueva were going to pick up the teenager.

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