Las Cruces Hotel Owners Charged With Human Trafficking

Las Cruces Hotel Owners Charged With Human Trafficking
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 9:42am

LAS CRUCES- Two Las Cruces hotel owners are accused of trafficking and enslaving two Indonesian women for more than six years.

Elina Sihombing, 47, and her husband David Girle, 54, owners of America’s Best Value Inn hotel on Picacho in Las Cruces, were arrested on May 23 on a criminal complaint alleging that they committed human trafficking offenses.

The complaint alleges that Sihombing and Girle obtained the labor and services of two Indonesian women by force, threats of force and physical restraint. They also are charged with recruiting, harboring and transporting individuals for the purpose of forced, and removing or confiscating the victims’ immigration documents.

Sihombing and Girle allegedly brought the first of their two victims from Indonesia to Phoenix, as a nanny for their toddler and with the understanding that she would have the opportunity to obtain an education and prepare for a career.

Instead, the victim allegedly was forced to work as a nanny from 8:00 a.m. to midnight every day, but was never paid for her work and was never given an opportunity to attend college as she had been promised.

The complaint alleges that, in 2005, the couple brought another woman to Phoenix from Indonesia who performed the same type of work for the couple without any remuneration.

In July 2007, Sihombing and Girle relocated to Las Cruces where they purchased the America’s Best Value Inn and lived on the hotel grounds. The couple allegedly told the two victims that, after the hotel was remodeled and sold, they would be paid for their labor.

The women were forced to work from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. every day with no days off and were not allowed to leave the hotel.

In 2009, the victims allegedly asked Girle about their immigration documents, and he told them he had them for safekeeping. He also advised them that their visas had expired. Sihombing allegedly withheld food from the victims as punishment and also threatened to call immigration authorities if the two did not do as Sihombing demanded.

The complaint alleges that this type of treatment continued until January, 2010, when the two victims left the hotel.

The pair faces up to 30 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines if convicted on all charges.

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