By Anita Nembhard
Promising work at a salon, 64-year-old Estella Gonzalez, escorted a 15-year-old female to Belize from Honduras in August of 2014. But instead of salon work, the minor found herself at Gonzalez’s mercy and working as an entertainer and prostitute at Temptation Bar.
Gonzalez, currently detained at the Kolbe Foundation, was convicted of one count of human trafficking in the Supreme Court, before Justice Adolph Lucas in a trial by judge with jury on Thursday, February 11th.
A panel of four men and five women found Gonzalez guilty of human trafficking.
The jurors stepped into the deliberating room at 6:38 p.m., and came out at 7:56.
Gonzalez, the owner of Temptation Bar located at mile 10 on the George Price highway, was represented by attorneys Leo Bradley and Kevin Arthurs. She will be sentenced next week Thursday, February 18, 2016.
The minor testified that between August 17 and September 7, 2013, Gonzalez brought her to Belize from Honduras on the promise that she would work in a salon as a manicurist.
When she arrived in Belize, she was put to work in a bar where she entertained men and eventually had sex with three men. Gonzalez was paid $150 for each sexual encounter and $10 on every drink ordered by the men. In the end, the minor only received $25.
When asked about the meagre salary, Gonzalez replied that she had to deduct the cost of transportation from Honduras to Belize, the cost of clothing, and the cost of housing and electricity consumed.
Gonzalez ordered the minor to stay indoors, then threatened her by explaining that if the police ever found her, she would be arrested and sent back home – as she did not own proper documentation. Gonzalez’s plan came to a halt when a customer heard the minor’s story and reported the incident to police.
In her defense, Gonzalez stated that she met the victim when she showed up at her door asking for a job. She told her she had no work to offer but that she could work at the bar.
The prosecutors in the case were the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) herself, Cheryl Lyn-Vidal who was assisted by newly -appointed Crown Counsels, Sherigne Rodriguez, former Magistrate in San Pedro for the Belize City Magistrate’s Court and Janelle Tillett.