An illegal immigrant from Honduras, 39-year-old Hernan Ramirez-Ortega, has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for sexually abusing an 11-year-old Tohono O'odham girl. He was also sentenced for sexually abusing a woman living on the Gila River Indian Reservation. At the time time of the abuse, Ramirez-Ortega was living on the Tohono O'odham Nation. He plead guilty to the crimes in 2010.
The Tohono O'odham Nation spans nearly 3 million acres from the U.S. border with Mexico up into Arizona. The reservation ends near the most popular intersection for drug and human trafficking in the country near Casa Grande, where I-8 and I-10 intersect. The lack of law enforcement on the Tohono O'odham allows cartels to operate freely and gives them easy access to the rest of the country. They use it as an entry point, marry into Indian families so they can live on the reservation and, if a village is small enough, cartel members will simply walk in and take property by lethal force.
Back in 2011, I went on a ride along with Pinal County Sheriff Department SWAT Team Member Matthew Thomas, who explained the situation in detail:
An aspect of the cartel business that is often overlooked is sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation of both women and children is occurring at an alarming level.
Thomas said sexual predators in the U.S. will order children from Mexico through cartels; cartels then send those children along with a drug run through the desert after payment and deliver that child to their new owner for sexual use.
“They [Americans] don’t understand how much activity is going on,” Thomas said.
According to the FBI, Ramirez-Ortega will serve his prison time and then he will be immediately deported back to Honduras. Once there, he will be put under surveillance and banned from re-entering the United States.