Teen claims smuggler took her as payment - Albuquerque Journal

Teen claims smuggler took her as payment

Alberto Villanueva (MDC)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

A teenage girl from Honduras told police in June that her father left her with his friend – a human smuggler – as payment for getting the family into the United States before the man brought her to Albuquerque and raped her on a regular basis.

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.

A federal search warrant unsealed this week outlined the FBI’s investigation into the case and state court filings filled in some of the other details.

Charlie Moore-Pabst, a spokesman for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, said the girl is safe. He said no other details could be released.

On June 17, 2021, an Albuquerque police detective was contacted by CYFD about 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 notified CYFD, according to court records. A CYFD investigator found a “State of Texas Power of Attorney Over Child” form signed by her father and assigning guardianship to Villanueva.

During a sexual assault exam, the teen reported years of abuse at the hands of Villanueva, who she lived with at an apartment complex near the school. The teen said she had known Villanueva, a friend of her father’s, since she was 13 and they all lived in Honduras.

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

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

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

Authorities said Villanueva took her passport, birth certificate and other paperwork. The teen reported that she didn’t know anyone in the city, and Villanueva never allowed anyone to come to the apartment and threatened to hurt her and her parents “if she did not obey him.”

The girl told a sexual assault examiner that Villanueva would rape her twice a day, giving her a pill beforehand, and withheld food if she refused, according to court records. 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 reported the abuse, Villanueva had choked her and thrown her against a wall for trying to resist his advances.

During the course of the sexual assault exam, Villanueva repeatedly called the girl and sent her numerous text messages when she didn’t answer. Then, according to authorities, her father called and told her she was lying about Villanueva, that she “belonged to (Villanueva)” and he was going to “get in trouble without reason.”

Authorities said a nurse overheard the conversation, which ended with the father saying he and Villanueva were going to come for the teen.

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