YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A deported Honduran who illegally returned to the United States was due in federal court in Newark today after being indicted by a grand jury last week on stalking and sex trafficking charges.
Hermen Zuniga Castro, 31, has been in federal custody since immigration agents seized him at Newark’s Penn Station nearly four years ago.
Authorities said Castro — also known as “Helmer Zuniga,” “Herman Zuniga,” and “Helmer Mendoza” — began stalking and threatening the woman in June 2007, while both were living in Honduras.
According to a complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Newark, Zuniga smuggled her into the U.S. five months later by threatening to kill her family.
For the next two years, it says, he forced her to work as a housekeeper and as a prostitute in Texas. He also repeated raped, beat and threatened her, the complaint says.
In October 2009, it says, he carved the letter “H” into the left side of her abdomen with a knife.
Castro was arrested on a traffic violation in Cleburne, TX in November 2009, leading to the woman’s rescue.
After serving 14 months in prison, he was deported in February 2011.
There he got hold of the victim’s family — and her phone number in the U.S.
“On one occasion, the victim received a telephone call from her mother with Zuniga standing next to her mother, threatening to kill the victim if she did not answer his telephone calls,” the complaint says.
“Soon afterward, the victim began received threatening telephone calls from Zuniga on a daily basis,” it says. “During the calls, he would threaten to come to the United States, transport the victim to Houston, where he would force her to earn money for him by becoming a prostitute.
In September 2011, Zuniga told the victim that he was en route to New Jersey from Honduras to get her, authorities said.
Early the morning of Oct. 11, he called and said he was at Penn Station, they said.
Federal agents quickly moved in and arrested him.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman credited special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Securities Investigations, with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shana W. Chen of the Economic Crimes Unit and Elizabeth M. Harris of the OC/Gangs Unit in Newark.
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