Texas bar owner pleads not guilty to long list of charges

Rita Martinez, 61, who was arrested on July 31 in Mission after a joint investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the FBI, is jailed in lieu of bonds totaling $2.8 million. (Jail photo)
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MISSION, Texas (KWTX) Rita Martinez, 61, who was arrested on July 31 in Mission after a joint investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the FBI, remained jailed Thursday after pleading not guilty to 31 separate charges including human trafficking, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and delivery of a controlled substance.

She was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Hidalgo County.

Her bonds total $2.8 million.

TABC agents arrested her and her son, Genaro Fuentes, 26, after a year-long investigation into allegations of human trafficking at the bar the two operated in Mission.

The probe was launched after the agency received reports that Martinez, the owner of Rita’s Sports Bar, was recruiting young Hispanic females whom she forced to work in the bar and who were trafficked and sexually assaulted repeatedly.

The bar has been shut down.

“We have strong reason to believe there are multiple victims still unaccounted for whose testimony could play a vital role in ensuring justice is served,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said.

“We’re counting on the public to help us bring this case to a successful conclusion.”

Authorities are asking anyone with information about the case and potential victims to call the TABC at (956) 374-2240.