Covering Louisiana

Jun 5, 2014 7:19 PM by Letitia Walker

"Severe and disturbing" case of human trafficking in Natchitoches

Deputies in Natchitoches Parish say they've made arrests in what they call the most "severe and disturbing" case of human trafficking they've ever investigated.

The arrests were made following a joint investigation by the Sheriff's Office in Natchitoches Parish, the Natchitoches Parish District Attorney's Office, and Louisiana State Police.

Deputies say the assistant town marshal called them to say he found a female victim with a logging chain around her, attached to a bucket, at a business near the Intersections of Interstate-49 and University Parkway (La. Hwy 6 West) near Natchitoches, La.

Deputies say the victim had been held captive and chained against her will for several days in the 500 block of Dick Anderson Road near Ajax, La. , in northwest Natchitoches Parish.

While being held captive, the victim said she was able to free herself and take one of the suspect's vehicles. Deputies took her to the hospital, and she was said to be suffering from numerous lacerations and bruises to her body.  Deputies say the logging chain was removed by Natchitoches firemen; the victim was placed in protective custody.

Detectives say during their investigation they learned that the victim was an out-of-state resident who met a couple from Ajax online and agreed to move into their home several months ago.  The couple has been identified as David Rodriguez Jr. and Christina Marie Harper.  The victim told deputies Rodriguez drove to the victim's out-of-state home to help her pack her belongings to move to Louisiana.  After moving in, Rodriguez allegedly made the victim turn over all her cash and relinquish ownership of a 1999 Harley Davidson motorcyle. Soon afterwards the victim was allegedly tattooed by Rodriguez with a tattoo registering her as a slave on a website.

The victim told deputies she was given a list of daily chores to complete by her master which included serving meals, drinks, taking care of animals, leveling dirt for a swimming pool, installing a swimming pool, digging trenches, removing fallen trees and performing sexual acts.  Detectives say if the victim failed to perform any assigned duties, she was subject to beatings and discipline by Rodriguez, Harper, and a third person identified as Amber Lomas.  The punishments allegedly included beatings, carving initials into undisclosed areas of her body, being tazed and urine being thrown on her.

At some point, the beatings and discipline became so severe, the victim allegedly told her master that she wanted to leave, which she said led to her being chained outside in the woods.  She said she was then moved into a building where she was fed once a day and given limited water and urine to drink.

NPSO Chief Investigator Greg Dunn says on June 4th,  detectives executed a search warrant on the couple's residence located in the 500 block of Dick Anderson Road, near Ajax, La.  Deputies say they seized fifteen firearms, a stun gun, four computers, 2-tablet computers, three external hard drives, one digital camera, one digital video camera, and an Ipod.

Two children in the residence, ages fifteen and sixteen, were removed by the State Office of Child Protective Services.

On Wednesday morning, all three suspects involved in the investigation turned themselves in to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff's Office.

37-year-old David Rodriguez Jr. was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center and charged with 1-count of Human Trafficking, 1-count of Aggravated Second Degree Battery, 1-count of Second Degree Kidnapping/False Imprisonment, and 2-counts of Offenses against Computer Users.  Bond is set at $635.000 dollars.

39-year-old Christina Marie Harper was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center and charged with 1-count of Human Trafficking, 1-count of Aggravated Second Degree Battery, 1-count of Second Degree Kidnapping/False Imprisonment, and 2-counts of Offenses against Computer Users. Bond is set at $635,000 dollars.

39-year-old Ambre Tubbs Lomas was booked into the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center and charged with 1-count of Second Degree Kidnapping/False Imprisonment, and 1-count of Aggravated Second Degree Battery. Bond is set at $525,000 dollars.

All three suspects remain in the Natchitoches Parish Detention Center.

 

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