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Feds: 22 Houston Southwest Cholo gang members lured immigrants to U.S., forced them into prostitution

November 11, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Feds: 22 Houston Southwest Cholo gang members lured immigrants to U.S., forced them into prostitution Photo comp: Fox News

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Federal prosecutors announced the indictment of 22 purported Southwest Cholo gang members in Houston on charges of sex and drug trafficking, selling firearms, human smuggling and stealing identities.

Federal prosecutors revealed that a 37-count indictment was filed in Houston and was partly unsealed Wednesday. The conspiracy-related counts are associated with sex trafficking, prostitution, immigrant smuggling, along with drug and weapons charges.

The FBI announced that 13 of the Houston gang members were in custody, but nine were still at large. The law enforcement agency tweeted pictures of the suspects on Thursday.

According to Fox News, the suspects are alleged to be part of the Southwest Cholos crew, a violent gang widespread in Houston.

From the left: Juan Carlos Contreras Cervantes, 25, Raul Moreno Reyna aka Coney, 53, Anadalit Duarte aka Paola, 25, Walter Lopez, 26, Bianca Stephanie Reyna aka Troubles, 20, Melissa Dominguez aka Missy, 50 William Alberto Lopez, 20, and Claudia Soriano-Hernandez, 26, are some of the co-conspirators who remain at large.

Federal prosecutors claimed that the members lured illegals immigrants into the U.S., guaranteeing them jobs to pay off their debts, but instead coerced them into prostitution. The gang allegedly forced the undocumented foreigners to work in brothels in Mexico and Houston.

The gang’s brothel in Houston was considered its “base of operations for meth and heroin peddling, gun trafficking and human smuggling,” prosecutors stated.

The gangsters threatened violence against the immigrants’ families if they declined to work in the brothels, KHOU reported

The members also tattooed the immigrants with names to remind them of who they belonged to.

The gang’s operations extended from Texas’ border with Mexico to the resort city of Cancun.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the undocumented immigrants paid $40,000 each to the gang to be smuggled into the U.S. Authorities revealed that they discovered 16 immigrants hidden in stash houses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Goldman asked the suspects be considered a flight risk and remain in custody without bond. The suspects could face ten years on a minimum drug trafficking sentences to 20 years if convicted of human smuggling.

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