The stack of charges includes sex trafficking, harboring people illegally in the U.S., and money laundering. Deputy U.S. Attorney Reuben Perez says that Hortencia Medeles, 68, could receive life in prison without parole if found guilty on all charges. The charges relate to a human trafficking ring which took place in two Houston area nightclubs that served as brothels for underaged girls and other trafficking victims.
12 people involved, including her family members, have already plead guilty to charges, and will testify through the course of the week. One suspect is believed to have fled back to Mexico.
This case originated in 2005, when the Mexican Consulate called the Harris County Sheriff’s office to report one of their citizens had been held against her will and forced into prostitution. The woman had escaped, and then met HCSO’s Edwin Chapuseaux, who specialized in human trafficking cases.
Chapuseaux told the Houston Chronicle that the facts lined up again and again, from the location, to the details inside the brothel, including escape hatches, locks on the outside of the prostitutes rooms and the names and descriptions of the people involved.
In an interview with Dane Schiller of the Houston Chronicle, Defense attorney Ali Fazel said his client had not broken federal laws. “There is no doubt the defendant was running a location where prostitution occurred,” he said. “Guess what? That is not against the federal laws of this country. The defendant didn’t traffic anybody, did not beat anybody or coerce or force anybody.”
The specifications of the indictment, obtained by Breitbart Texas and attached below, include that within the alleged sex ring, condoms were sold for $20, with the cost of sex acts ranging from $65 for 15 minutes to $500 per hour for minors. The indictment charges Medeles with being the matriarch of the family-run operation that landed 12 people under the indictment. She is charged with running Las Palamas II and Tencha as nightclubs that served as brothels for women and under aged girls who were trafficked into the United States from Mexico and Central America by padrotes (pimps) who would also take the girls to other brothels in the Houston area.
The conspirators would collect entrance fees, condom fees and rental of “prostitution room” fees from the men who would frequent the establishments. Those fees amounted to over $1.2 million between February, 2012, and August, 2013, according to the indictment.
During a two-year period beginning in 1999 had approximately eight girls under the age of eighteen working in the prostitution rooms. This type of conduct carried on for nearly 15 years according to the indictment.
Medeles is accused of personally overseeing which customers were allowed into a VIP room where they could choose girls in their mid-teen years whom she allegedly referred to as “fresh meat.”
Attorney Fazel also said that while jurors would hear “some things that are just not nice” about goings-on at the clubs, but that his client did not beat or physically abuse the girls, who were delivered nightly by their pimps.
The club was torn down in December, 2013.
Bob Price contributed to this report.
Rob Milford is a news contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Facebook.