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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Local arrest leads to federal investigation into human trafficking in South Lafourche

Local arrest leads to federal investigation into human trafficking in South Lafourche

The February arrest earlier this year of a Larose woman led to a federal investigation into human trafficking in the south Lafourche area.

Martha Bustos, 48, of Larose, who was arrested by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in February, was taken into federal custody last week in reference to the ongoing investigation.

An investigation conducted by the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office led to the discovery of females being smuggled into the United States for prostitution. The females were promised transportation to the U.S. as well as legitimate work. In return, the women agreed to reimburse smugglers for the transportation costs.

Investigators learned that upon their arrival to the U.S., the females were actually forced into prostitution to pay the debts owed to smugglers.

Following an operation using undercover agents, investigators took Martha Bustos into custody on the night of February 19, 2015. Through questioning, investigators learned Bustos coordinated business in the South Lafourche area with other individuals from whom she would pick up new females every couple of weeks who would begin prostituting.

She also admitted to coordinating meetings with clients by phone and transporting the females to a location to which the client agreed. Bustos would then send the money the prostitutes made back to the debtors, and the females would continue prostituting until their debt was paid.

At that time, Bustos was charged with Pandering (Transporting Persons for Prostitution) and was booked into the Lafourche Parish Detention Center. She was released the following day, February 20, after posting $25,000 bond.

The Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office recently learned that Bustos was taken into custody by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday, November 10, and federal charges are pending.

No further details are available at this time due to the ongoing federal investigation. Details surrounding Bustos’ arrest in February were withheld due to the federal investigation and for the safety of all parties involved.