Rafael Romo reports for CNN:
As Maria and Lupe – CNN has changed their names to protect their identities – were waiting by the highway for their early evening bus home when they say a semi-tractor trailer stopped right in front of them and two men got out.
There were no conversations. It all happened, very quickly, the cousins say. “They were two men who were wearing black masks like hoodies. We couldn’t see their faces,” Maria said.
Lupe says she didn’t even have time to react. “I only felt that they put something on my nose and that’s all I remember. The last thing I remember is yelling for help,” Lupe said.
Drugged and drifting in and out of consciousness, they lost track of time. They only know they woke up in a dark room where they were kept for several days. There was no food or water and the cousins were cold. But it was only the start of their ordeal.
Several days later, Maria says, a woman showed up. She let them both know that, from now on, they were going to “work for her,” the cousins said. At that moment they had no idea what the stranger was talking about.
Lupe was taken out of the room and Maria was left alone with the woman. A man then entered the room and started beating her savagely. She says he raped her; and then both the man and the woman threatened her life and told her to cooperate.
That night Maria says she was forced to have sex with 23 men. “When they left, I stayed there, lying on the floor, bleeding. My entire body ached. The woman told me to get up, that it hadn’t been that bad,” Maria said.
To read about Maria’s daring escape and how it led to a clampdown on a massive criminal network, click here.