Bar Owners Charged With Sex Trafficking In Texas
HOUSTON, TX – On Thursday, Maria Botello, 54, Edgar Botello, 28, Arian Botello, 23, and Yudy Lucatero, 31, were all taken into custody, following an investigation that alleges the four family members were running a forced prostitution operation out of their bar, known as the Puerto Alegre.
The operation, in which young women were brought to Houston from Mexico under false promises (usually of good employment opportunities) went on for more than a decade, according to prosecutors.
Maria Botello, who ran the operation with her son, daughter and nephew, acted as the pimp, and reportedly charged clients $70 for 15 minutes with the victims, at least one of whom has been identified as a minor.
In a press release, the U.S. Attorney's Office stated:
The criminal complaint, filed March 30, alleges that from 2007 to 2020, the family members coerced waitresses working at the Houston bar Puerto Alegre to engage in commercial sex acts. The victims allegedly included adults and at least one minor.
Authorities ultimately identified another victim who was brought to the United States specifically to work at Puerto Alegre, according to the allegations. While there, she was allegedly forced to engage in commercial sex. The charges allege she was only 17 at the time.
Weapons were used on the girls to force the victims into the sexual encounters.
All four suspects have been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy. If convicted, each family member faces up to life in prison.