A 17-year-old girl from Guatemala smuggled into Shelbyville to serve as an alleged human trafficker’s “wife” is safe today. The suspect was captured by Shelbyville police Tuesday with help from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
Fernando Dias Sebastian, 27, of Moody Street, was charged Tuesday with human trafficking and trafficking for commercial sex acts, Detective Nathan Everhart of the Shelbyville Police Department said. Sebastian is being held on $500,000 bond at Bedford County Jail.
The girl has been placed in a foster home by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and is in that agency’s custody.
“She is in good hands,” Everhart said.
Sebastian allegedly electronically transferred money to have a so-called “mule” smuggle the girl through the Cartel into Mexico, Everhart said.
The girl crossed the border to Arizona where she was quickly captured by United States customs and immigration authorities. That was part of the plan, Everhart said.
Immigration rules prevent minors from being deported back to their home countries. They are allowed to settle in the U.S. if sponsors can be found.
“Sebastian had a Shelbyville couple falsely claim to be her aunt and uncle and apply to be the girl’s sponsors,” Everhart said. The application was accepted.
“Customs sent her by American Airlines to the Nashville airport where the couple picked her up,” Everhart said.
“He supposedly wanted her to serve as his wife. His last wife had left him with two infant children. He wanted the girl to cook and clean his house. She also had to have sex.”
Sebastian is of Guatemalan descent but was born in the United States, Everhart said, and is therefore a U.S. citizen.
“He paid $1,000 to the mule and still owes her father $600,” according to Everhart.
The girl’s ordeal lasted five days. She’d had enough and told an employee of the Bedford County Health Department of her situation, Everhart said. That employee notified police.
“She had been in the U.S. for less than a month, maybe 14 days at the time of the report,” Everhart said.
The couple who posed as the girl’s relatives has not been charged at this time. Everhart said the investigation is continuing.