JACKSONVILLE, Florida — A 47-year-old Florida woman faces 20 years in prison for smuggling a young woman from Mexico to be her pregnancy surrogate and then starving her and forcing her to do domestic labor.
Federal prosecutors say Esthela Clark pleaded guilty to forced labor, admitting that she paid people-smuggling “coyotes” $3,000 to sneak the victim into the U.S. from Mexico for the purpose of her serving as surrogate mother.
Clark had promised the 26-year-old woman the process would be medically supervised, but instead she tried to get the woman pregnant by using syringes to inject semen taken from her boyfriend’s used condoms.
The efforts — which sometimes entailed up to five injections per day — lasted for nine months, but didn’t result in a pregnancy. When that didn’t work, prosecutors said Clark forced the woman to have sex with strangers in an effort to get pregnant.
Prosecutors say Clark believed things weren’t working because the victim was too fat, so she put her on an all-beans diet, leading the woman to lose 65 pounds.
Clark also forced the woman to do domestic work around the house, isolated her from her family and tried to force her to pay back the money paid to the smugglers who brought her into the country.
A woman from a local church alerted police to the young woman’s plight after seeing her washing cars on a cold winter’s day wearing insufficient clothing.