Texas Authorities Break|Up Sex-Smuggling Ring | Courthouse News Service
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Texas Authorities Break|Up Sex-Smuggling Ring

HOUSTON (CN) - A man pleaded guilty to conspiring to bring Mexican women to Houston to work as prostitutes, federal prosecutors said.

Javier Belmontes, 46, pleaded guilty to conspiring to harbor Mexican nationals, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. He was one of 10 people charged in the conspiracy.

"Belmontes was charged along with nine others in 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," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement. "The indictment, returned Feb. 15, 2011, alleged that the conspirators further relied on the services of pimps to supply the women for use as prostitutes to maintain control of the women."

Belmontes owned and operated La Costenita and El Club Restaurante in Houston, where his associates charged the women $15 for a condom and use of a room, and others worked as lookouts for police, prosecutors said.

Belmontes faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine at his April 9 sentencing.

The indictment charged seven others with conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.

Two ringleaders pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

So far nine of the 10 people named in the indictment have pleaded guilty, prosecutors said.

"The United States is also seeking the forfeiture of money, two bars, one restaurant and several properties which the government alleges were the proceeds of ill gotten gains and/or used to facilitate these crimes," according to the statement.

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