Millcreek Couple Charged with Human Trafficking and Forced Labor, US


Updated: 7:11 AM, Tue November 21, 2023

A Millcreek couple has been charged with human trafficking and forced labor after allegedly helping two relatives enter the United States illegally and then coercing them into working to pay off debts. Luis Mendez-Portillo, 50, and Lesbia Lisseth Figueroa Gallardo, 44, face multiple felony charges related to the alleged crimes.

According to court documents, Mendez-Portillo arranged for two women from Guatemala to enter the U.S. in November 2022. One of the women explained that she came to the United States to earn money for her children back in Guatemala. Mendez-Portillo claimed he had connections with human smugglers and offered to help her cross the border. The woman took out loans totaling $16,000 from Guatemalan banks and sent half the money to Mendez-Portillo while the other half went to the smuggler.

However, upon arrival in Salt Lake City, Mendez-Portillo allegedly told the woman that she now owed him $20,000. Both women were then forced to work at fast-food restaurants managed by Gallardo and another relative. One of the women stated that she never completed any employment paperwork and was paid through a cash card. Mendez-Portillo controlled their earnings and managed the cash cards. The victim also revealed that Mendez-Portillo threatened her, stating that if she didn’t pay him what she owed, he would harm her family, even going so far as to claim he would cut off her youngest son’s fingers and send them to her mother.

The women were closely monitored and not allowed to have cellphones. They were constantly supervised by either Gallardo or Mendez-Portillo. The charges further detail that the second woman was warned not to escape due to Mendez-Portillo’s connections and the threat that something would happen to her family if she didn’t repay the debt.

One of the victims managed to escape in January, followed by the other in April. Both women are now living in different states. Investigators discovered that Mendez-Portillo and Gallardo are also in the United States illegally. During a search of their residence, authorities seized passports and identification documents belonging to the two women, as well as fraudulent residency and Social Security cards.

The charges against Mendez-Portillo and Gallardo include two counts of aggravated human trafficking for labor, first-degree felonies, as well as charges for human smuggling, benefiting from trafficking and human smuggling, forgery, and unlawful possession of someone else’s identification documents.

This alarming case sheds light on the issue of human trafficking and forced labor, highlighting the vulnerability of individuals seeking a better life in a foreign country. It also emphasizes the importance of cracking down on such criminal enterprises and protecting those affected by them. The victims, who had hoped to provide for their families, instead found themselves trapped in a nightmare of threats and abuse.

As the legal proceedings unfold, it will be crucial to ensure that justice is served and that the victims receive the necessary support to begin rebuilding their lives. The charges against Mendez-Portillo and Gallardo demonstrate the seriousness of their alleged crimes and send a strong message that human trafficking and forced labor will not be tolerated.

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Sophia Anderson
Sophia Anderson
Sophia Anderson is an accomplished crime reporter at The Reportify, specializing in investigative journalism and criminal justice. With an unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth, Sophia fearlessly delves into the depths of criminal cases to shed light on the darkest corners of society. Her keen analytical skills and attention to detail enable her to piece together complex narratives and provide comprehensive coverage of high-profile trials, crime scenes, and law enforcement developments. Sophia's dedication to justice and her ability to present facts with clarity and sensitivity make her articles an essential resource for readers seeking an in-depth understanding of the criminal landscape. She can be reached at for any inquiries or further information.

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