A man once accused of human trafficking for allegedly smuggling a woman across the U.S.-Mexico border to Utah and forcing her into prostitution has been sentenced to jail time for using false documents to obtain employment.
Santos Moyica Mojica, 44, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty in August to second-degree felony identity theft.
As part of a plea deal, charges of aggravated human trafficking, pattern of unlawful activity, possession of forged writing, and additional counts of identity fraud were dismissed.
In a plea document, Mojica admitted to using another person’s alien registration number to obtain employment. Charges say that since 2013, Mojica obtained employment at three different Salt Lake County businesses by using that other person’s information, as well as an invalid Social Security number.
On Monday, 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy suspended a potential one-to-15-years prison term and ordered Mojica to serve one year in jail with credit for 116 days already served. The judge also placed Mojica on probation for three years, but indicated the defendant would be facing deportation.
The now-dismissed human trafficking charges state that Mojica met the alleged victim in Guatemala in 2008, persuaded her to move with him to Mexico, promising her that if she came with him, “he would see that her [four] children were brought to Mexico later.”
While in Mexico, Mojica would allegedly lock the woman in the house, allowing her to leave only for work, charges state.
After two months, he told the woman they were moving to Utah — a place she’d never heard of before, charges say.
“Coyotes,” or illegal human smugglers, reportedly helped Mojica and the woman across the U.S. border, and once they arrived in Utah, the woman began working at various markets, charges state.
After about six months, the charges say, Mojica told the woman to have sex with a man they’d met at a market for money, threatening that he would abandon her in Utah and make sure her children never made it across the border if she did not engage in commercial sex.
The woman began to engage in prostitution “out of fear of not seeing her children” and continued to do so for eight years, according to the charges. Men would give money directly to Mojica in exchange for sex with the victim, the charges state.
The woman communicated what was happening to other people, “including calls to police on multiple occasions,” according to the charges. “But she was afraid to follow through with these reports due to the threats against her.”
The woman eventually began working with victim advocates, who made her feel comfortable enough to come forward, the charges say.