Another guilty of trafficking women in cantina backroom
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – A 30-year-old man who resided in Houston has pleaded guilty to several sex trafficking crimes and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Edgar Botello admitted to sex trafficking with force, fraud or coercion and conspiracy to do so as well as possession of child pornography.
“Sex traffickers prey on the vulnerable, including those in the United States without documentation,” said Hamdani. “These victims are often fearful of law enforcement and reluctant to come forward. I praise the bravery of the victims which led to the conviction of Botello and his mother. If you are a victim or know someone who is, please contact authorities. We work side-by-side with victims to bring people like Botello to justice.”
Botello worked with his mother - Maria Botello-Morales - to run a cantina known as Puerto Algre. There, they forced several females to engage in commercial sex in backrooms built specifically for that purpose.
As part of his plea, Botello threatened and intimidated these victims with violence to manipulate them into the sex acts for his personal financial benefit.
The victims reported they had started at the bar as waitresses. However, Botello-Morales used Botello as her representative and enforcer and told them they had to engage in commercial sex. If they refused, she threatened them with violence. The women reported Botello always carried a gun with him and, on occasion, threatened them.
Some of the victims witnessed violence and weapons at the bar and in the back area where the sex acts occurred. Each described how they had to take customers to the backrooms. They were given a condom wrapped in a paper towel, were to spend no more than 15 minutes in the room and charge approximately $70. Upon exit, they had to turn the money over to whoever was guarding the room, which was often Botello.
Law enforcement conducted a search at Botello’s residence on April 1, 2021. At that time, they found numerous weapons in his room. They also discovered a computer which was found to contain child pornography.
U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen accepted the plea and set sentencing for June 12. At that time, Botello faces up to life in prison for the sex trafficking charges as well as up to another 10 years for the possession of child pornography.
Botello has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing. Botello-Morales, 56, pleaded guilty Jan. 3o and also remains in custody pending sentencing.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Houston Police Department (HPD) as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack is prosecuting the case.
HTRA law enforcement includes members of the HPD; FBI; HSI; Texas Attorney General’s Office; IRS-Criminal Investigation; Department of Labor (DOL); DOL – Wage and Hour Division; Department of State; Federal Air Marshals; TABC; Texas Department of Public Safety; Texas Rangers; Texas Parks and Wildlife; Social Security Administration – OIG; Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation; Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as well as police departments in Houston Independent School District (ISD), Conroe ISD and Missouri City; Harris County constables offices – Precincts one and four; sheriff’s offices in Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Waller counties in coordination with District Attorney’s offices in Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend and Galveston Counties. They work in coordination with victim service providers such as YMCA, United Against Human Trafficking and Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners.
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.
Updated February 27, 2023
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