Aurora residents sentenced to prison for forced child labor

Two Aurora residents have been sentenced to six and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts each of forced labor.

Between February 2019 and February 2020, Santo Teodoro Ac-Salazar, 27, and Olga Choc Laj, 34, who are both Guatemalan citizens, conspired to unlawfully enter the United States with two children, who were not their own, in order to more easily be allowed entry into the country and to avoid prolonged detention by immigration authorities, the plea agreement said.


Once in the U.S., Ac-Salazar and Choc Laj harbored the two children, ages 15 and 10 at the time, in a residence in Aurora. Among other things, they failed to enroll the children in school, prohibited them from leaving the residence except in limited circumstances and instructed them to provide false information to third parties — including law enforcement authorities.

According to the plea agreement, Ac-Salazar and Choc Laj also forced the two children to work as their domestic servants and childcare providers. The two would also physically strike and threaten to strike the children if the children did not do as they were told.  

Ac-Salazar and Choc Laj forced the older child to work various paying jobs outside the Aurora residence and took nearly all of the earnings from the jobs the child worked, the plea agreement said.

In addition to their 78-month sentences, the court ordered Ac-Salazar and Choc Laj to pay $98,364 in restitution to the victims.