Police said a 43-year-old man was arrested for allegedly intimidating a victim in a human trafficking case and attempting to dissuade witnesses from talking to police, the Mountain View Police Department announced Tuesday.
Police arrested the suspect, identified as Abel Estuardo Franco Garcia, on Saturday, Jan. 12, after he allegedly threatened the victim of a human trafficking scheme the police department has been investigating since October.
Last month, police arrested 33-year-old Carlos Garza after he was suspected of illegally bringing Guatemalan residents to Mountain View and, once they arrived in the city, demanded repayment and forced the recent arrivals into fearful and oppressive living conditions. He allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl from Guatemala and forced her to have sex with other men for money. His sister, Evelia De Maria Galvez, was arrested on suspicion of aiding Garza in bringing immigrants to the country and intimidating victims.
During interviews with witnesses on Jan. 10, detectives were told that Franco Garcia was not only threatening one of the victims, but had also attempted to dissuade one of them from talking to police. The next day, police received a "frantic" phone call from one of the witnesses stating that Franco Garcia had used his vehicle to "nearly hit them" before driving off at high speed, according to the statement.
Police officers found Franco Garcia the next day and arrested him on suspicion of two counts of intimidating a witness or victim, police said.
Police are urging any victims or witnesses in the case to come forward with information, and assuring them that anyone who works with detectives will be kept safe.
"This type of behavior is unacceptable, and it prevents victims from being able to be cared for and to receive the services to which they are entitled," police said in a statement.
Anyone who is a victim, or knows someone who is a victim, is asked to contact Detective Marco Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org.