Two Fayetteville Residents Arrested on Alien Smuggling for Commercial Advantage, Forced Labor, and Money Laundering Charges
RALEIGH, N.C (STL.News)Two Fayetteville residents were arrested on charges within an Indictment returned by a federal grand jury and relating to violations of conspiracy to smuggle, transport and harbor aliens for commercial advantage or private financial gain, conspiracy to commit forced labor, and money laundering.
According to the forty-two (42) count indictment, Martha Zelaya-Mejia, age 37, a permanent resident of the United States, born in Honduras, and David Darnell Whitehead, age 42, a United States citizen, conspired with others to smuggle four Honduran females and their minor children from Honduras, through Mexico into the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain. Once the Honduran females were in the U.S. Zelaya-Mejia, Whitehead and others transported, harbored, and placed them into the residence of an individual residing in Willard, North Carolina in order to obtain the labor and services by means of force, threat, physical restraint, or threats of physical restraint to the Honduran females.
On August 9, 2019, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from one of the Honduran females that was placed at the Willard residence stating that she was not free to leave and was being held against her will, and tased by the owner of the residence.