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Security guard at Anzalduas Park accused of abducting migrant woman and soliciting her for sex

A security guard accused of abducting a migrant woman, soliciting her for sex and attempting to hold her for ransom pleaded not guilty Tuesday.

Ernesto Gaona-Gonzalez, 59, of Mission worked for MLG Protection Services, a company hired by Hidalgo County to provide security at Anzalduas Park.

“He adamantly denies the allegations made by the government and we look forward to our day in court,” said attorney Carlos A. Garcia of Mission, who represents Gaona-Gonzalez. “And, furthermore, the government interviewed my client over six months ago and didn’t see fit to arrest him till six months later. So I don’t know what changed between the time that the complainant made her allegation to the date that he was finally indicted, but the truth will be told at trial.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jongwoo “Daniel” Chung summarized the case during a hearing on Tuesday.

On Sept. 4, 2022, a migrant approached federal air marshals and Border Patrol agents near Anzalduas Park.

Ernesto Gaona-Gonzalez. (Photo courtesy of the Texas Department of Public Safety.)

The migrant said a woman had been abducted and showed the agents a series of text messages.

“In those messages, the woman had sent a photo of an older man in a security guard uniform,” Chung said, according to an audio recording of the hearing released by the U.S. District Clerk’s Office. “And repeated messages saying that she was about to be raped.”

The woman also sent her location through WhatsApp.

As the migrant was talking with agents, the migrant received a call from the woman’s phone.

“There was a man on the line who was saying: ‘Hey, you know, if you give me $300 I’ll let the woman go,’” Chung said.

Agents hurried to the location the woman had shared through WhatsApp, where they found her in Gaona-Gonzalez’s car.

The woman, who had no legal status in the United States, said that she crossed the border with a group of migrants. At some point, the woman was separated from her group, Chung said, and Gaona-Gonzalez stumbled upon her.

According to the woman, Gaona-Gonzalez offered her a drink.

“When they were alone in the car, he told her that he would drop her off at a store if she had sex with him,” Chung said.

The woman, who feared Gaona-Gonzalez would sexually assault her, shared her location with another migrant, who approached federal agents for help.

Gaona-Gonzalez worked for MLG Protection Services of Mission. Hidalgo County hired the company in August 2020.

“We’re investigating to see exactly what’s going on,” said attorney Javier Peña of Edinburg, who represents the company.

A grand jury indicted Gaona-Gonzalez on April 5. He’s charged with transporting an illegal alien within the United States, which is punishable by a maximum of 5 years in federal prison.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano ordered Gaona-Gonzalez held without bond.

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