HOUSTON (CN) – Ringleaders who brought Mexican women to Houston and forced them to work as prostitutes were sentenced to 26 and 28 years in federal prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Maria Rojas aka “Nancy,” 47, and Jose Luis Rojas, 39, were sentenced to 16 years for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and 10 years for conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, prosecutors said in a statement.
Maria Rojas also pleaded guilty to illegal re-entry after deportation, and received an additional two years to be served concurrently with her other sentences.
“The two were charged with a conspiracy involving the recruitment of Mexican women and girls to travel to the United States with the false expectation of legitimate jobs in bars and restaurants,” prosecutors said. “Once the women and girls arrived in the United States, they were forced into prostitution in one of the defendants’ bars.
“The conspirators further relied on the services of pimps to supply the women for use as prostitutes to maintain control of the women.
“Maria Rojas was the owner of La Costenita, formerly Playa Sola, as well as El Club Restaurante, formerly La Cueva Restaurante Bar, both located on Clinton Drive in Houston. Jose Luis Rojas operated La Costenita.”
Eight others were charged with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, including a co-owner of La Costenita, two of its managers, four people who worked as police lookouts, and one man who distributed condoms, charging them $15 for a condom and for use of a room at La Costenita, prosecutors said.
Six of these defendants have pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison stints ranging from 8 to 11 months, prosecutors said. They will all be deported after serving their time.