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Latino Daily News

Tuesday March 20, 2012

Guilty Pleas for Smugglers Trafficking Mexican Women to Work in Houston Bars

Guilty Pleas for Smugglers Trafficking Mexican Women to Work in Houston Bars

Photo: Human Trafficking of Mexican Women Revealed

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

The last person in a 10‐defendant indictment has pleaded guilty for his role in an organization involved in the trafficking of Mexican females for compelled service at Houston area bars and restaurants through force, fraud, and coercion, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Javier Belmontes, 46, entered a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes for conspiring to harbor Mexican nationals.

Belmontes was charged along with nine others in a conspiracy involving the recruitment of Mexican women and girls to travel to the United States with the false expectation of legitimate jobs in bars and restaurants. The indictment, returned February 15, 2011, alleged that the conspirators further relied on the services of pimps to supply the women for use as prostitutes to maintain control of the women.

Maria Rojas, aka “Nancy,” 46, was the owner of La Costenita, formerly Playa Sola, as well as El Club Restaurante, formerly La Cueva Restaurante Bar, both located on Clinton Drive in Houston. Belmontes owned, controlled, and operated La Costenita and El Club Restaurante, while Jose Luis Rojas, 38, operated La Costenita. Seven others were charged in the indictment with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. Maday Martinez, 34, and Evelin Carolina Aguera, 37, worked as managers; while Claudia Perez Ramirez, Silvano Santos, aka “Chivas,” Francisco Maradiaga Jimenez, aka “Pancho,” and Olvan Ramirez Caceres worked at La Costenita as lookouts alerting police presence.

The final defendant, Aleyda Juarez, passed out condoms and charged the females $15 for the condom as well as use of the rooms.

Belmontes is set for sentencing on June 18, 2012, at which time he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Aguera, Santos, Perez Ramirez, Maradiaga Jimenez, Ramirez Caceres, and Juarez have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced. Their sentences for their roles in conspiracy to harboring illegal aliens has ranged from eight to 11 months and all will be deported upon completion of their sentences. Martinez has also pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

The United States is also seeking the forfeiture of money, two bars, one restaurant, and several properties, which the government alleges were the proceeds of ill gotten gains and/or used to facilitate these crimes.