As reported by the AP, Marcelino de Jesus Martinez, of Greenfield, California recently pleaded no contest to charges of child endangerment. Back in February, he pleaded not guilty to charges of procuring a child for lewd acts, and aiding and abetting statutory rape. If convicted on those charges, he could face up to 10 years in prison. Martinez sold his own 14-year-old daughter to the family of Margarito de Jesus Galindo for $16,000, beer and some meat. The 36-year-old Martinez now faces up to a year in prison and deportation.
Martinez called police after his daughter had been living with Galindo for a week and he did not receive the payment he was promised. He says that the beer and meat were for the wedding that was planned between his daughter and Galindo. 18-year-old Margarito Galindo was also detained on suspicion of statutory rape, but it is unclear whether or not charges have been filed. Apparently, in the indigenous Mexican Trique community of which Martinez and Galindo are members, arranged marriages with girls as young as 12 are not unusual. But cultural issues aside, the arrangement violates California state law, which clearly states that the age of consent for marriage is 18, or 16 with parental approval.
Trique immigrants cross the border regularly to work in the fruit and vegetable fields in southern California. Many only speak the indigenous language of their tribe, and share traditions that set them apart from mainstream Mexican culture. Greenfield police Chief Joe Grebmeier told MSNBC, "This is not a traditional [human] trafficking case because there is no force or coercion in this," Grebmeier said. "We're aware of the cultural issues here, but state law trumps cultural sensitivity."