DPS trooper testifies about Polk Co stop that led to sex-trafficking arrest

DPS trooper testifies about Polk Co stop that led to sex-trafficking arrest
Ledys Alvarenga-Sarmiento (Source: Polk County Jail)
Ledys Alvarenga-Sarmiento (Source: Polk County Jail)

LIVINGSTON, TX (KTRE) - During the first day of testimony in the sex trafficking jury trial of a Honduran man, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper said that aspects of the situation raised red flags for him immediately after he pulled the suspect over for a number of traffic violations.

The trial for Ledys Geovanny Alvarenga-Sarmiento is being held in in Judge Kaycee L Jones' Polk County courtroom. Alvarenga-Sarmiento is currently being held in the Polk County jail on a felony trafficking child/engaging in sexual conduct charge.

On Monday, the 12-person jury was selected for Alvarenga-Sarmiento's trial.

According to arrest records, Alvarenga-Sarmiento, was shuttling a 16-year-old girl with him to Tennessee, after previously being arrested in Pennsylvania for child sex-trafficking, in late June.

The state's first witness was DPS trooper Kevin Burman, who pulled over the truck that Alvarenga-Sarmiento was driving in June of 2014. According to the dash cam video shown today in court, the trooper pulled Sarmiento over for three reasons: speeding, driving in a left passing lane, and a tail light that was no longer working.

When Burman asked for identification from both Alvarenga-Sarmiento and the minor female with him, he said they had no American documentation.According to Alvarenga-Sarmiento's Honduran ID, it noted that the man was around 26 years old, Burman. The female admitted to being 16.

When Alvarenga-Sarmiento admitted to Burman that he had picked up the girl from Houston and was headed to Tennessee, Burman saw that as a red flag. Burman explained that prior to this incident, he had been involved in training classes that were designed to help officers identify sex traffickers. He also said that he learned during the training that Houston is a huge hub for sex trafficking and smuggling.

The DPS trooper testified that he then went back to his vehicle to the call multiple officers and administration to ensure he was making the right judgement call and decision.

Later, the state brought Maryanne Jean Gillespie, a retired DPS CID officer, to the stand. She spoke about the rape exam that was done on the young girl. Gillespie said the rape kit definitely showed that Alvarenga-Sarmiento's DNA was found on the girl's body.

"She was fairly flat," said the Registered Nurse who completed the young girl's rape kit. She describe the young girl as, "indifferent."

A forensic biologist, registered nurse, and Homeland Security special agent were all brought forth as witnesses to confirm the results of the rape kit, all of which traced back to Alvarenga-Sarmiento.

The last several hours of the day centered around the transcript of the conversation between the special agent and Alvarenga-Sarmiento. He discussed his relationship with the girl, how he met the girl, and the relationship he has with the young girl's mother.

The transcript indicated he discussed payments between he and the family, and possible sexual encounters with the young girl.

"You don't violate someone who is willing," said Alvarenga-Sarmiento in the transcript. He admitted to the special agent that he wanted to bring her to America for a better life.

During the opening arguments, the prosecutor explained that the sexual aspects of the case are for certain, and will be easy for the jury to see.

In addition to the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Polk County District Attorney's Office, Child Protective Services, and the Department of Homeland Security assisted in the investigation.

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