McALLEN, Texas (CN) – A man faces up to 20 years in prison for picking up three stranded undocumented immigrants, including a 16-year-old girl, making them work for him and trying to have sex with the girl, federal prosecutors said.
A federal jury convicted Pedro Salazar, 56, of San Juan, Texas guilty of conspiracy and two counts of harboring illegal aliens, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The three immigrants, from El Salvador and Guatemala, were involved in a car accident on Feb. 24. They hid in brush for a few hours, then walked down a road where Salazar drove past them, and asked if they needed help.
The immigrants testified that Salazar offered to feed them, but drove them to his restaurant and made them paint, put up shelves, dust, sweep and mop for 6 hours instead.
“The next morning, Salazar woke the male aliens and had them paint the gate at his ranch. During this time, Salazar attempted to have sex with a 16-year-old female alien,” prosecutors said. “He chased her around the room naked and told her she needed to have sex with him or there would be problems for her.
“She interpreted that to mean he would contact immigration. She testified she told Salazar she would call law enforcement herself if he carried through with the act since she was a minor, at which time he stopped pursuing her, she stated.
“The next day, Salazar’s wife kicked the aliens out.”
The jury did not buy Salazar’s defense that he was merely trying to help the illegal immigrants, prosecutors said.
Previously out on bond, Salazar was taken into custody upon conviction.
He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for conspiracy charge and up to 5 years on each of the harboring charges at his Aug. 16 sentencing.