Defendants Plead Guilty at Onset of Sex Trafficking Trial
HOUSTON—With the guilty plea of the final defendant today, a total of six men have now been convicted for their varying roles in an international sex trafficking of minors conspiracy, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Jose William Quintanilla, 40, entered his plea today after the jury was seated and testimony was set to begin. Two others—Adelio De Jesus Batres, 52, and Hugo Alexander Melendez-Gonzalez, 37—pleaded before trial began this week, while the remaining three—Francis Yuvinni Guerra Pleitez, 33, Walter Alexander Ejcalon Xalcut, 27, and Mariano Quintanilla-Campos, 33—had previously entered guilty pleas in the case.
With the exception of Xalcut, who is from Guatemala, the defendants are originally from El Salvador. All had been residing in the Houston area.
Court records demonstrated that from late 2010 to the present, the men conspired to cause persons less than 18 years of age to engage in commercial sex acts. The men employed women and underage girls, transported them to various apartments for the purpose of engaging in sex and shared in the proceeds derived from the illegal activity. Most, if not all, of the females were also aliens illegally within the U.S.
With the exception of Melendez-Gonzalez, who admitted to sex trafficking of a particular minor, the remaining defendants were all convicted of engaging in the overall sex trafficking of minors conspiracy. All six men face up to life in federal prison as well as a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner has set sentencing for Feb. 9, 2015.
All of the defendants had been and will remain in custody pending their sentencing hearing.
The charges arose from an investigation conducted by the FBI, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations and Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Searle and Douglas Davis are prosecuting the case.