Glendale PD investigates sex trafficking operation tied to human smuggling debts

Glendale Police arrested a man in connection to a sex trafficking operation out of Cuba.

Investigators say this issue goes far beyond the Valley and believe it’s tied to debts that women owe for being smuggled into the U.S.

Court documents say numerous Cuban women are being held and sex trafficked. Investigators say it’s larger than the Phoenix area with ties to Houston, Las Vegas and Miami.

Twenty-five-year-old, Enmanuel Garcia Guzman, was arrested on June 21 in an undercover operation where police planned to make a sex-for-money exchange with the victim.

Enmanuel Garcia Guzman

Guzman drove the victim to the hotel where they set up the meeting. Behind closed doors, she allegedly agreed to $200 in exchange for sex.

That’s when she was detained, but not charged and offered resources to get out.

Police say the group of Cuban men are using multiple apartments, hotels, and houses around Glendale and surrounding west Phoenix areas to traffic these women.

The victim told police she does have a debt that she owes to a male for her immigration into America, something Stacey Sutherland with the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network says is a common tactic.

"When we talk about our foreign-born victims, who are not U.S. citizens, holding that debt bondage over their head, where they have to work to pay off various fees, is quite a common tactic. Additional items are added to that. Living expenses, food expenses, other things. So that debt is ever-increasing. Then that debt bondage is almost impossible to pay off," she explained.

She says it's hard to pinpoint the number of victims across the Valley.

"Whether that's, you know, you're being sold for labor or for sex or a combination of both. For some of our victims, there is a delayed identification. Sometimes victims never come forward," Sutherland said.

She says it's a way to keep someone enslaved by making them work off a debt.

"Some of our victims will put up land or family homes or businesses in foreign countries as collateral. They're working to pay off this debt and knowing that if they don't like that, there are repercussions for their family in their home country," Sutherland said.

The victim would not speak about the men who she allegedly owes debts to, including Guzman. The victim in the case declined any resources from police.

Arizona Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-877-4-AZ-TIPS (1-877-373-7888)

Click here for resources relating to human trafficking.