Church Pastor, Child Trafficker: The Crimes of Elsa Cuellar in a Border Town

Rowman & Littlefield. Mar. 2024. 228p. ISBN 9781538185063. $32. CRIME
Rodriguez (The Long Road to Mexico) asserts that many of the human-trafficking stories in headlines, movies, and television cloud society’s understanding of the topic. His latest book hopes to change that by providing a sociological perspective that points to social characteristics of trafficking through the story of Elsa Cuellar. Starting in the early 1990s, it is believed that Cuellar engaged in the sex-trafficking of young girls and selling babies along the Texas-Mexico border. For 10 years, Rodriguez researched the allegations against Cuellar; he tracked down victims, interviewed investigators, and even gained access to part of the criminal underworld that Cuellar allegedly worked in, all to try to understand how she could allegedly commit these crimes for decades and still escape justice. Rodriguez is an engaging writer who weaves the often-incomplete stories and evidence into a compelling and frightening narrative of how one woman manipulated her victims and the legal system.
VERDICT This book will appeal to readers of true-crime stories, but it’s also ideal for those looking for a real-world example of what human trafficking looks like today.
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