Baby joy and a new American life for the Mexican woman smuggled to Florida by immigrant desperate for a child
Esthela Clark, 47, paid people smugglers between $3,000 and $4,000 for the 26-year-old woman, listed in court docs only as Y.L.
Clark then injected YL with her boyfriend’s sperm and forced to have sex with strangers
Both women are from Guadalajara, Mexico, where Clark first propositioned YL in 2012 to be a surrogate for her and her boyfriend Roland Castellanas
YL was told she would be brought over for a paid-for surrogacy which would be monitored by doctors
Instead, Clark held her captive in a one-room apartment in Jacksonville, Florida, and said her family would be harmed if she tried to leave
The woman was forced into servitude, sleeping on the dining room table
Inseminated with syringes of semen collected from discarded condoms for two years, made to have sex with strangers in the hope she would conceive
She was saved by people who realized something was wrong
YL now has a partner, a baby of her own and a permit to live in the U.S. since her release from bondage
The 26-year-old victim, identified in court docs only as Y.L.,to protect her identity, has forged a promising new life for herself since her release from captivity, a new partner, baby and papers to reside in he U.S.
in a harrowing tale of modern day slavery, Esthela Clark this week admitted a federal charge of forced labor for smuggling the anonymous victim into the country for forced labor.
In December 2, 2012 Clark, 47, had smuggled with a 26-year-old Mexican woman into the US to serve as a surrogate mother, which ostensibly was going to be under medical supervision. However, the young woman found there were no doctors awaiting her arrival.
Instead, Clark herself carried out the insemination with syringes of semen collected from discarded condoms, a barbaric ‘procedure’ that took place night after night, not on a hospital ward, but on the dining room floor of a suburban condo and across the seat of a pickup truck.
When the DIY impregnation failed, the captive surrogate was starved and forced to work as a domestic slave for the next two years to pay back her enslaver.
It is a near unimaginable tale of exploitation and depravity – even more so when it is revealed the perpetrator in this vile scenario is herself a woman and a mother of three.
Following her guilty plea, Clark, a blonde divorcee from Jacksonville, Florida, faces up to 20 years in prison and deportation to her native Mexico if it’s established that she too is an illegal immigrant.
A naive young Mexican woman agreed to be smuggled into the US to serve as a surrogate mother – and now Esthela Clark, 47, (pictured) this week admitted a federal charge of forced labor for bringing the anonymous victim into the country for forced labor
Meanwhile, her 26-year-old victim – named only as Y.L. in court documents to protect her identity – has been permitted to stay and work in the US.
She has since forged a promising new life for herself since her release from captivity, settling down with a new partner and welcoming the birth of her baby son late last year.The two women first met in Guadalajara, western Mexico in 2012, where Clark, or Stella as she liked to be known, was introduced to Y.L. through a friend. She told the impressionable young woman she wanted someone to carry a new baby for her and her boyfriend, Roland Castellanas.
According to charging documents, a deal was soon struck: Y.L. would travel to the US where she would give birth in a ‘medically supervised fashion’ before being handed $4,000 to take back to Guadalajara.
Clark then paid $3,000 to a gang of ‘coyotes’ – Mexican people traffickers – who smuggled Y.L. across the border to Texas, where their associates picked her up for the final leg to Jacksonville, where she arrived December 2, 2012.
Clark and Castellanas shared the apartment’s one bedroom while Clark’s grown up son, Jordan Zamora, slept on the couch, leaving Y.L. to sleep on the dining room floor – her bed for the next two years.
Clark, 47, paid people smugglers between $3,000 and $4,000 for the 26-year-old woman, who was then stripped of her papers and phone and told her family and four-year-old child in Mexico would be harmed if she tried to leave.
Unable to speak more than a few words of English, her perilous situation soon became obvious as the deal went sour: she was stripped of her papers and phone, and told her family and four-year-old child in Mexico would be harmed if she tried to leave.
Investigators say Clark also preyed on the young woman’s superstitions, telling her she could read tarot cards and would know if she tried to keep secrets. Locals suspected nothing.
‘Stella told us they were sisters,’ recalled former next-door neighbor Pharda Jones. ‘They looked the same, they spoke the same language, so I guess I just assumed it was true.
‘They used to walk the dog, they went to the gym together. I never heard any fighting or violence. The young woman was very shy and she didn’t speak any English.
‘She would be on her own sometimes and she could have run off at any time. I guess she didn’t feel she had any place to go.’
A week after arriving, Clark began harvesting her boyfriend’s semen from used condoms before using plastic syringes to inject it into Y.L.’s vagina.
There was no medical supervision and prosecutors say the only time Y.L. ever saw a doctor was to receive pregnancy tests.
‘This took place three to four times a day during periods when Y.L. was ovulating and continued until approximately September 2013,’ charging documents read.
After each humiliating ‘procedure,’ Clark forced the woman to lie on pillows with ‘her legs pointed in the air, naked from the waist down and stay in that position for at least 20 minutes.’
Predictably the crude procedure failed to produce a baby and when each test came back negative Clark became more ‘psychologically and physically abusive’. Her disappointment manifested in beatings and cruel punishments, like forcing Y.L. to sleep in a pool of bleach or clean cars in skimpy clothing.
Clark further coerced her young surrogate into demeaning strip searches and prevented her from washing herself or her clothes for weeks at a time. According to charging documents, Clark blamed Y.L.’s inability to conceive on her being overweight, deciding to feed her nothing but beans from a can until she lost 65 pounds.
Clark first propositioned her in 2012 to be a surrogate for her and her boyfriend Roland Castellanas
She was set to work to earn her keep, washing cars, walking Clark’s puppy, Fancy, and cleaning her other son’s home. On the few occasions Y.L. was able to call her family, she was heavily coached by Clark to allay their suspicions and insist everything was fine.
But the visible signs of abuse did not go unnoticed by Linda Lester, a 49-year-old resident and cleaner at the two story apartment complex in Jacksonville’s Arlington neighborhood.
‘She would sit on the wall outside my apartment and cry,’ Lester said.
‘I could see that she had black eyes.
‘I asked what was going on but she wouldn’t tell me. She didn’t speak much English and I don’t think she would have asked for help even if she did.
‘To think that she was inside all that time, sleeping on the floor, working like a slave and having those awful things done to her, it breaks my heart. It’s shocking that it happened under peoples’ noses.’
Clark tried unsuccessfully to extort $10,000 from a US-based relation of Y.L’s family for the money she paid out to the Coyote traffickers, plus interest.
Desperate to get some return on her ‘investment’, she then forced Y.L. ‘to have sex with two complete strangers’ in an effort to get her pregnant the ‘traditional’ way.
The first ‘donor’ was a middle-aged man who came to pick up the rent when Clark and Y.L. stayed briefly at a Missouri trailer park where Castellanas had a construction job.
Clark picked out the second male while shopping at Walmart, inviting him to their trailer five days later to have sex with Y.L. who acquiesced because she ‘felt she had no other option’.
A final sickening attempt to impregnate her came after Clark began seeing an American bartender, leaving Y.L. waiting outside his home in her Chevrolet Avalanche pickup while she headed inside for sex.
According to charging documents, Clark would emerge moments later carrying condoms containing his semen and immediately use syringes to try to inseminate Y.L. inside the vehicle.
Clark held YL captive in a one-room apartment in Jacksonville, Florida [photo] for two years, treating her like a human guinea pig
Clark’s hold on her young captive eventually began to loosen in late 2014, however, when she started sending the woman to find work at local restaurants so she could steal her earnings.
Maurice and Nora Walley, owners of Napoli’s Pizza Cuisine, grew suspicious when the victim walked in looking tired and anxious and pleaded to use their phone.
‘I thought it was strange she didn’t have her own phone and afterwards she asked me to delete the numbers,’ Nora, 56, recalled. ‘She said if anyone comes and asks, don’t tell them I used the phone. She was afraid of someone.’
Y.L. began confiding in Spanish-speaking Nora and eventually revealed the person she feared was ‘Esthela’, the lady with whom she lived with.
Nora and Maurice would soon meet Clark for themselves when she turned up at the restaurant one night in late December, demanding to know where Y.L. was. The next time they saw their startled employee she had a busted lip.
Nora decided to share their fears with a friend, Iomara Miranda, who had also gotten to know Y.L. though the nearby Celebration Church in Jacksonville.
Miranda would later tell detectives that she grew suspicious after observing Y.L. ‘washing cars in very cold weather with insufficient clothing’ and with ‘physical signs of abuse’ on her.
On January 27, 2015, Y.L. told Clark she was going to do laundry and never returned.
By the time Clark realized her ‘slave’ was gone she had been taken into care by Miranda who took photos of her injuries and hid her before contacting the Department of Homeland Security.
Clark was arrested and indicted in May 2015 on charges of bringing in and harboring aliens, sex trafficking of children, forced labor and furthering slave traffic.
She pleaded guilty Monday to a single count of forced labor charge in a plea deal announced by acting United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow.