Police say a mother in Texas sold her 7-year-old son and attempted to sell her other children. Esmeralda Garza may face up to two decades in prison should evidence be found that the children were being sold into prostitution, prosecutors say.
Garza, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was arrested on June 29. Her bond was set at $100,000 and she is being held at Nueces County Jail on a third-degree felony charge of sale or purchase of a child, according to The Associated Press. Third-degree felony charges are punishable with up to 2-10 years in prison.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says they discovered the 7-year-old, who is not being named in reports, while executing a drug search warrant. As law enforcement continued to investigate, they also discovered that Garza allegedly had attempted to sell a 2-year-old girl and a 5-year-old girl.
The boy had allegedly been bought by two men, according to KRIS, a Copus Christi, Texas-based news station.
First Assistant Attorney Matt Manning said that if evidence is found that the child had been sold for the purpose of performing sexual activities, more charges may be brought against Garza, according to KRIS. Should this be the case, Garza potentially faces up to 20 years in prison.
Family members were horrified to learn of what the children had gone through.
"Heartbroken, saddened, overwhelmed. We assumed he was okay with her ... We're saddened by the whole ordeal, but as soon as we get my grandson home, everything will be okay. We intend to take care of him the best that we know how," Sandra Guerrero, the boy's grandmother, told KRIS.
Tony Guerrero, the boy's uncle, said that the family had previously attempted to check in on the child's care.
"She always said he was okay when we'd call and ask. ... [During the police raid] they had asked his name, asked him who was his parents. He says, none of these people here are my parents," Guerrero told KRIS.
Guerrero also expressed his shock over Garza's alleged crimes.
"Wow. Just the type of stuff that you see in movies. And it really happens. For it to be happening here in Corpus Christi is what's the scary thing," he added. "A 7-year-old kid, you're going to sell a 7-year-old kid? Or buy one? You're going to buy one?"
The three children are now being cared for by Child Protective Services. Guerrero says they are safe and hopes the family will be reunited soon.
An investigation is ongoing.
[Photo: Neuces County Jail]