A woman told Border Patrol agents she was given a choice by her guide while crossing the border illegally: Have sex with him or be left behind in the desert to die.
She was one of 10 suspected illegal immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador who jumped the international border fence near Lukeville in May 2017, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson. The woman, identified in documents by her initials, told agents that Jose Pastrano Rios, 54, sexually assaulted her on two nights during the weeklong trek.
Pastrano was sentenced Tuesday to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a human-smuggling charge. He also was charged in June 2017 with two counts of sexual assault in Pima County Superior Court, where his trial is scheduled for October.
The woman told Border Patrol agents she quickly grew tired after crossing the border and on the second day Pastrano began making sexually explicit comments to her in front of the group, a Homeland Security Investigations agent wrote in a sworn affidavit filed in federal court. She said Pastrano coerced her into having sex with him the next day and again on the sixth day of the trek.
When she tried to stop Pastrano from sexually assaulting her, Pastrano “told her if she did not allow him to have sex with her, he would leave her to die,” federal prosecutor Frances Kreamer Hope wrote in response to Pastrano’s objection to considering the alleged sexual assault when sentencing him on the human-smuggling charge.
The day after the second alleged assault, Border Patrol agents found the woman walking with a Guatemalan man and an El Salvadoran man, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. Two days later, Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies caught Pastrano and two other men who were part of the original group west of Casa Grande.
On Tuesday, Chief Judge Raner C. Collins accepted the five-year prison term included in the plea agreement, but denied Pastrano’s request that his federal prison sentence run at the same time as any potential sentence handed down in Superior Court.
Collins said he leaned toward making the sentences run consecutively, but “the judge over there may feel differently.”
Pastrano “adamantly denied any non-consensual sex” with the woman, defense lawyer Charles Thomas wrote in an objection to the pre-sentence report filed in federal court.
“None of the other members of the group were able to corroborate any sexual assault, and at this point there are only the alleged victim’s words, contained in reports of investigation,” Thomas wrote.
Two suspected illegal immigrants who made statements to authorities about the woman and Pastrano were turned over to the Department of Homeland Security, court records show. The alleged victim’s lawyer filed a motion to have her released, but it is unclear whether she was.
The two men told agents they met with Pastrano, also known as “El Bigote” or “The Mustache,” in Sonoyta, the Mexican city directly south of Lukeville. They stayed in a house for two days before heading to the border fence, according to the affidavit.
The two men said Pastrano began making explicit comments to the woman on the second day and she then slept near Pastrano away from the rest of the group, the agent wrote.
Pastrano was identified by Border Patrol agents as a foot guide for human smuggling three separate times in 2016 and worked for the Gustavo and Los Mapas smuggling organizations, Kreamer Hope wrote in a sentencing memorandum.