A Texas woman who convinced two Mexican women that she was the "voice of God" and forced them to work without pay for 14 years by threatening them with Hell and immigration authorities after bringing them into the country illegally, was convicted of labor trafficking in federal court last Friday.
A release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Olga Sandra Murra, 64, aka "Olga Sandra Capon-Meneses," who ran a house cleaning business in Fort Worth and El Paso, was convicted on two counts of forced labor and two counts of harboring an illegal alien after a weeklong trial.
She is now facing a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each forced labor count, and up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each harboring count when she next appears in court on Nov. 28.
Although she was born in the United States, Murra lived in Mexico from shortly after her birth in 1952 to 1997, according evidence presented by the government at her trial. In 1997, the release said Murra, her immediate family, and several other individuals she brought with her, including one of the victims, a woman in her 30s identified as "V.R.," moved to El Paso and then later to Fort Worth.
The following year, in 1998, Murra made arrangements for a second woman in her 20s, identified only as "I.G.," to be transported into the U.S.
"From September 1997 to April 29, 2011, Murra kept one or both of the women at her various residences in El Paso and Fort Worth, and held their identification documents," according to the ICE release.
"In both El Paso and Fort Worth, Murra operated a house-cleaning business. She directed both V.R. and I.G. to work for her business, and both cleaned three to four homes per day up to seven days per week. In addition, the women cleaned Murra's residence and prepared meals for her. Murra, however, did not pay either woman for this work. In fact, Murra required the two women to give her all the money they earned cleaning houses," it noted.
"Murra represented herself to the women as the voice of God on Earth, and required them to listen to religious recordings of Murra reading Bible verses and discussing their meaning while they cleaned homes. She led both women to believe they would go to Hell if they did not obey her. Murra threatened at least one of the women that if she disobeyed her, she would contact immigration and the woman would be buried in a field with other illegal aliens. Murra also struck at least one of the women," the released added.
According to ICE officials, Murra also restricted the freedom of the women while they were in her home by prohibiting them from speaking to other people in the residence, requiring that they ask permission to use the bathroom and forcing them to sleep on the bedroom floor.
When they were being punished, "Murra required them to sleep in the garage, laundry room or backyard; she also restricted their food to bread and water."