CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas: A Texas woman accused of selling her 7-year-old son and planning to sell her two other children to settle a drug debt has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Esmeralda Garza of Corpus Christi was sentenced Friday after taking a plea deal.
She was convicted on three counts of selling or purchasing a child. She also was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy to sell or purchase a child.
Last June, investigators discovered her son had been sold for $2,500.
Investigators also learned that she had planned to sell her two daughters, ages 2 and 3, as well — all to pay off a drug debt.
Assistant District Attorney Jenny Dorsey told local media that Garza was charged with three different counts of sale or purchase of a child.
In June of last year, investigators went to Garza's house on a drug warrant.
There they discovered her son had been sold for $2,500. Investigators also learned that she had planned to sell two more of her children as well.
First Assistant District Attorney Matt Manning said Garza was sentenced to the maximum, which is two years in state jail. "It's very important to us that we send a very clear and unequivocal message: If you hurt children or have the audacity to sell a child, we're going to do all we can to hold you accountable and put you in prison where you belong."
Garza had initially pleaded not guilty, but the evidence was overwhelming, local media reported. While some may believe the sentence is too light for such a crime, Manning said any prison time is hard time.
"The most important part though is that she is absolutely going to prison and she's been held accountable for this most heinous offence," Manning said.
Garza will be eligible for parole from the Texas Department of Corrections after a year and a half, but won't be considered for that until she serves the state jail term of two years.