Self-proclaimed king of Bissonett guilty of sex trafficking
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas
HOUSTON – A federal jury in Houston has convicted a 47-year-old man of sex trafficking four women by means of force and of taking three women across state lines to engage in prostitution, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
The jury deliberated for approximately three hours before convicting Larry “Lavish” Lewis following a six-day trial.
Lewis used physical force and coercion to compel four women to engage in commercial sex in the Bissonnet street area of Houston and various cities in Texas and Louisiana. The jury also found he coerced them to cross state lines to engage in prostitution.
At trial, the victims detailed how Lewis recruited them on false promises of good money and a good life. Lewis confiscated the identification cards of two women and tightly controlled access to their hotel rooms. The women were completely dependent on him for food, lodging and basic necessities.
Lewis’ rules dictated where and how long they worked. The women were required to give Lewis all money they earned after commercial sex dates.
The victims detailed the consequences of breaking Lewis’ rules. He kicked one victim in the head into a window because he believed she disrespected him. During another incident, Lewis whipped the same victim with an electrical cord following an attempt to escape using his vehicle. Another victim described how Lewis broke her ribs and left bruises all over her body after receiving many beatings.
The jury ultimately did not believe defense claims that the women sought out Lewis because of his marketing expertise in the commercial sex industry.
U.S. District Chief Judge Randy Crane presided over the trial and set sentencing for Jan. 10, 2024. At that time, Lewis faces up to life in federal prison.
Lewis has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sebastian A. Edwards and Christine Lu are prosecuting the case.
Texas Department of Public Safety and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA).
HTRA law enforcement includes members of the Houston Police Department, FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Attorney General’s Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Department of Labor (DOL), DOL – Wage and Hour Division, Department of State, Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission, Texas Department of Public Safety, Department of Homeland Security – Office of Inspector General (OIG), Social Security Administration – OIG and Sheriff’s Offices in Harris and Montgomery counties in coordination with District Attorney’s offices in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend Counties.
Established in 2004, the United States 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 October 10, 2023