Jury convicts grandmother of trafficking a 15 year old girl

A nine-member jury needed just under an hour and a half on Wednesday night to convict 64 year old Estella Gonzalez of Mile 10, George Price Highway, of one count of trafficking in persons. Now, the owner of Temptation Bar could face anywhere from a fine to jail time when Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas sentences her next week. Gonzalez, represented by attorneys Leo Bradley and Kevin Arthurs, made unwanted history with the first conviction on indictment for human trafficking in Belize. Previous convictions took place in the Magistrate’s Courts in Belize City and San Ignacio. Gonzalez is accused of bringing a 15 year old minor from Honduras back in August and September of vlcsnap-2016-02-12-11h10m20s1432013 and using her as a prostitute in her bar. The teenager testified en camera that between August 17 and September 7, 2013, Gonzalez brought her into Belize from Honduras to work as a manicurist, doing nails in a beauty salon. When she arrived in Belize, however, she was put to work in a bar where she had to entertain men. Eventually she had sex with three men and was paid $150.00 for each sexual encounter; but the men she engaged with paid Estella the money. The child said Estella was to give her $100 for each sex act but only gave her 25 dollars. The minor told her story to another customer who reported it to police. Gonzalez denied the allegations, saying the minor did no illegal activity at her bar, including prostitution, and that it was the minor who approached her for work and then turned around and lied about it. Director of Public Prosecution Cheryl-Lynn Vidal led the prosecution as she has in previous cases of human trafficking; she was assisted by former Magistrate and Crown Counsel Sherigne Rodriguez, and Janelle Tillett.

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