Gang members charged with trafficking young girls for sex
HOUSTON (STL.News) Four Houston-area gang members are in custody following the return of a federal indictment on allegations of human trafficking, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Clarence Chambers aka Chris, 29, is expected to appear today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Bray at 2 p.m. Also charged are Javon Opoku aka Glizzy, 20, Damarquis McGee aka Lil Blue, 23, and Andres Portillo aka Andro, 20. Portillo is set for an initial appearance on July 1 at 2 p.m., while McGee and Opoku are set for their initial appearances on July 6 at 10 a.m.
The defendants are charged with trafficking young runaway girls on what it known as the “Blade” or the Bissonnet Track. This is an area near Southwest 59 Freeway and Bissonnet Street in Houston where traffickers commonly place their victims, according to the charges.
According to the indictment, the defendants worked to recruit underage teenage girls and forced them to engage in sex acts for money in cars and hotels around the Blade. They allegedly passed around or reassigned victims amongst one another, taught each other “the pimp game” and required the young girls to walk the Blade and sell their bodies. They also kept the proceeds, according to the charges.
The indictment further alleges if any of the girls wanted to switch between pimps, they would have to pay an exit fee or get “beat out” to do so.
Some of the defendants also allegedly required daily quotas each night from their victims. If the victims failed to meet their daily quotas, they were severely punished through beatings and humiliation, according to the indictment.
If convicted, Chambers and the others face a minimum of 15 years and up to life in federal prison.
The Houston Police Department initiated the investigation and later partnered with Homeland Security Investigations and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). Established in 2004, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Houston formed HTRA to combine resources with federal, state and local enforcement agencies and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental service organizations to target human traffickers while providing necessary services to those that the traffickers victimized. Since its inception, HTRA has been recognized as both a national and international model in identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking offenses.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Bennett and Kate Suh are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.