California couple charged with human trafficking and slavery

Jackie Lacey addresses the audience after she is sworn-in as Los Angeles's new district attorney Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. Lacey spoke out Thursday against a California couple accused of human trafficking and slavery.
Jackie Lacey addresses the audience after she is sworn-in as Los Angeles's new district attorney Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. Lacey spoke out Thursday against a California couple accused of human trafficking and slavery. Nick Ut/AP

A suburban California couple has been charged with human trafficking and slavery involving a nine-year-old girl smuggled from El Salvador.

The district attorney's office said the girl, who is now 11, spent two years working four days a week in a Pacoima restaurant owned by Dora Alicia Valle. When she wasn't working there, authorities said she was ordered to clean the home shared by Valle and her boyfriend, Estrada Melvin Sandoval.

The two pleaded not guilty Thursday and their bail was set at $175,000 each. If convicted they face more than 12 years in prison. They allegedly paid to have the child smuggled into the United States.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey spoke out against human trafficking and said her office will not allow children to be treated as human commodities.

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