Death threats kept terrified victims from seeking help, police say

Charges in trafficking case against Mountain View man include forced prostitution, rape

The man arrested in Mountain View on suspicion of human trafficking last month allegedly used threats of violence in order to extract money and force sex acts from Guatemalan immigrants he helped bring to the country illegally, according to a monthslong investigation by the Mountain View Police Department.

Carlos Garza, 33, was arrested on Dec. 20 on suspicion of human trafficking and has since been charged with four counts of human trafficking, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. One of those charges accuses Garza of forcing a minor to engage in a "commercial sex act" and carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

Carlos Garza

Evelia De Maria Galvez
A Voice review of court documents reveals a consistent story of how Garza allegedly operated a human trafficking scheme last year. Either Garza or someone who knew him would inform residents in Guatemala that Garza would be willing to put down $6,000 to have a guide, or a "coyote" help them travel into the United States illegally, provided they were willing to pay $8,500 once they arrived. Two of his alleged victims, a 14-year-old and her father, arrived in McAllen, Texas, in February, where they were apprehended by Border Patrol, sought asylum and were released before heading to Mountain View.

But once they arrived, the victims described oppressive and fearful living conditions under Garza, with strict rules requiring they stay with him in a crowded two-bedroom apartment until the debts were repaid. Police accounts of the apartment on the 1900 block of Latham Street detail multiple beds in the living room, and people in the apartment describing to officers how several people shared a twin-size bed. Victims interviewed by police recalled that there were anywhere from "at least 10" to as many as 17 people living in the apartment.

Police believe that the 14-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted seven times between April and June last year, and that Garza had "brought men into the home and into the victim's room" five times, demanding that she have sex with them and telling her that she had no choice. Garza reportedly received $200 from each man, which did not go toward the girl and her father's debt. The victim told investigators that she was also sexually assaulted by Garza twice during the same time period, and that he threatened to kill her and her family if she refused him.

During this time, the teen and her father, who had a job despite being restricted from working by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, gave Garza $800 a month for rent.

Garza's threats seemed legitimate because the girl believed Garza had fled to Mountain View from Guatemala after murdering someone, according to police interviews, and said she was fearful he would harm her mother and sisters who were still in Guatemala. Garza's sister, Evelia De Maria Galvez, also allegedly dissuaded her from going to police, telling her that there would be "consequences" if she made a declaration against Garza. Galvez is suspected of knowing about the sexual assaults, and was arrested by police on Dec. 20 on suspicion of aiding Garza and intimidating a victim.

When the sexual assaults were taking place, the girl told police she was not attending school and would seldom leave her bedroom. When she began attending summer school in Mountain View in June, the sexual assaults ceased because she spent less time at home and more time with friends and on campus, police said.

Police were alerted to the potential human trafficking case in early October, following reports that a man in the Latham Street apartment, later identified as Garza, had threatened a mother and her 7-year-old son with what appeared to be a pistol. The mother told police on Oct. 1 that, the day prior, Garza was intoxicated and pointed what was later determined to be a BB gun at her and her child, yelling, "There's going to be a killing," police stated in the report.

The victim told police that she did not feel safe returning to the apartment, and that four days prior he had fired the gun out the window. Four officers located Garza at a party at Rengstorff Park on Oct. 1 and arrested him. A Daisy Powerline 5501 BB gun was found under a pillow in the apartment during a search the next day, along with carbon dioxide canisters, ammo for the BB gun and what appeared to be a fake Mexican Consulate card with Garza's photo on it. Garza's passport indicates he is from Guatemala, the report said.

Garza was charged with two counts of exhibiting an imitation firearm and threatening to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury. He posted bail, but two days later was found to be in violation of an emergency protective order granted to the mother, which stated he could not come within 300 feet of her or the apartment. "Garza bailed out within 24 hours after being arrested for the second time," police said in the report.

That same day, officers suspicious of possible human trafficking began connecting the dots between the 14-year-old suspected of being sexually assaulted -- then enrolled as a high school student -- and the reported gun threats by Garza in the Latham Street apartment. While police reports filed in October state that speculation about human trafficking was unfounded at the moment, the case was referred to Mountain View police investigators, whose work eventually led to the Dec. 20 arrests of Garza and Galvez.

Garza is due back in court on Feb. 6 in San Jose and remains in custody with a bail set at $200,000.

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34 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:10 pm

So accordng to the District Attorney's charges, the father and daughter "sought asylum" (after being caught in the US near the border), then proceeded to join Garza in Mountain View. Later the daughter "told investigators that she was also sexually assaulted by Garza twice during the same time period, and that he threatened to kill her and her family if she refused him." The father worked, "despite being restricted from working by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

Do you see anything wrong at all in this picture? Is "asylum" now the automatic request by everyone caught entering illegally? Do you really think everyone who claims it has reason to fear their homeland; and how many then actually GO into real, horrific situations like the one described above? Is there any sense of law an order today around US immigration? Will the Americans who don't care about borders, and want to excuse all illegal immigration, find some way to rationalize all of this???

18 people like this
Posted by left for cheaper
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

left for cheaper is a registered user.

If the Democrats don’t want to build a wall and continue fighting for their political gain, then they best be prepared to propose a much better solution. So far I’ve seen nothing. If anything that California has taught me, it’s that Democrats will preach behind their gilded gates and fail to jump in and actually solve problems. Congrats Democrats, You’ve turned this bleeding heart liberal into a republican

22 people like this
Posted by Staunch conservative
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:00 pm

I am a conservative. I also believe in and welcome immigration. I love the diversity of our community. However I do NOT understand this incessant push for open borders? I can’t name one country in the world that doesn’t have borders and a process for legal entry. What is happening along the southern border is absolutely shameful. This story is just one example that we know about regarding sex trafficking. This border situation is dangerous, it’s not healthy, these poor people are being used as pawns in an outrageous game and I blame both sides. Politicians have been kicking this can down the road, using it as a way to rile their respective bases for years and years.

I don’t care for Trump, I think he says the stupidest things and I question his decisions. But I’ll hand him this...he isn’t going to just let this issue be pushed off again, he is forcing decisions to be made.

16 people like this
Posted by Maher
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Maher is a registered user.

Well, congrats to all the boys' comments which managed to turn a blind eye to the central crime of this article... sexual predation is the big issue here. Amazing isn't it that males are so comfortable with that problem and so quickly divert to anything except that truly universal crime in this country. I mean who do they think are the buyers of these services? Oh I guess that would be only illegal immigrants... who don't have the money to buy these services. Cheeeze! It's guys like the commentors who buy the services and then walk about the world like "regular folks" with no concern re their own amorality. No wonder they agree with Trump.

26 people like this
Posted by Staunch conservative
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 10, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Maher, I’m a woman. And I did speak specifically to the sex trafficking, what part of my comment did you not read?

Securing the border will help diminish the sex trafficking tremendously. How could anyone argue that it wouldn’t?

14 people like this
Posted by Left for cheaper
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 10, 2019 at 4:20 pm

Maher—I’m a WOMAN. Lots of assumptions from you.. seriously. I’m also a millennial. Can someone else report these two?

24 people like this
Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 10, 2019 at 5:33 pm

@Left for cheaper, evidently one of LOL’s favorite pastimes seems to be trolling the comments section of this website, oftentimes liberally denigrating commenters with whom it disagrees. It seems to characterize everyone who doesn’t share its opinion as a “racist” and a “boomer” (Although, I’m not quite sure what being a “boomer” would have to do with anything...unless one is trying to characterize someone old.) The way LOL uses the term “boomer” it’s clearly intended to be a pejorative. LOL has been repeatedly banned from this forum, but banning has zero bite.

If you report comments, then threads typically either become restricted to registered commenters only, or get locked down completely. Oh, and it’s super interesting to observe which comments typically get deleted, and which are allowed to remain. Telling, really. Screen shots make for good record keeping.

7 people like this
Posted by Maggie
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:37 pm

Maggie is a registered user.

If you read this article and did not feel empathy for the victims of the Garza's there is something seriously wrong with you? Have Americans lost their humanity, charity, goodwill. Build the wall so we don't have to be bothered?- PLEASE! Also not all human trafficking comes from Mexico- Hello! Most victims are simply flown in and overstay their visa, If the victims were from Laos, Malaysia, India, how would you feel. What has trump done to us! We are all immigrants, get over it. The wall will bring a false sense of security.

14 people like this
Posted by Revolving door
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jan 11, 2019 at 5:08 am

Let's get updates on what happens to Garza (and Galvez his female accomplice). Is she out of custody? If they were merely deported, they would promptly return. If Garza and Galvez have been sex traffickers, they should be imprisoned for decades or life. And the government should send their mugshots and a report of their sentences to every major newspaper south of the border.

9 people like this
Posted by SuperWoke
a resident of Willowgate
on Jan 11, 2019 at 8:41 am

SuperWoke is a registered user.

The sex trafficking of illegal immigrants right here in Mountain View, as close to the center of Silicon Valley wokeness as you can get. Without a porous border and a catch and release policy, Garza probably would not have been willing to shell out $6K to buy this 14 year old girls way across the border and into sex slavery. The decades long status quo encourages and enables this sort of exploitation. Trump may well be a royal a'hole, but I support his efforts to finally make real changes in this area. Comprehensive changes include physical barriers, this is common sense.

2 people like this
Posted by tecsi
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 16, 2019 at 12:33 pm

tecsi is a registered user.

There are two valid issues issues. Arguing that there is only one doesn’t really contribute to a healthy, constructive conversation.
Yes, illegal immigration and border security are real issues, and need to be addressed. DHS and Congress should assess the best options and implement them, whatever they might be
Yes, sexual trafficking is a horrific crime and those sponsoring it need to face severe consequences.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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