Four Charged with Sex Trafficking of Minors
HOUSTON—Blasina Vargas, Luisa Vargas, Dolores Vargas and Ignacio Escandon, all of Houston, have been taken into custody on three counts of sexual trafficking of a minor and one count of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
The indictment was returned under seal on Aug. 20, 2014, and fully unsealed as they were arrested by federal authorities. Luisa Vargas is expected to appear in the near future in Miami where she was taken into custody. Blasina Vargas, 53, Dolores Vargas, 63, and Escandon, 48, were arrested in Houston and will appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacy today at 2:00 p.m.
The indictment alleges that from at least Feb. 12, 2012, to the present, the four defendants conspired to cause a person under 18 years of age to engage in a commercial sex act. They allegedly operated several apartments located in the 10,000 block of Westview in Houston as brothels. The indictment further alleges they instructed minor undocumented Mexican victims and young women how to solicit and charge for commercial sex acts. The defendants collected all the fees paid to the women, according to the allegations.
They are also charged with harboring and concealing illegal aliens in Houston.
This matter was investigated by FBI, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Houston Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). The HTRA was formed by the United States Attorney’s office in Houston as part of a broader effort by the Department of Justice to concentrate and combine resources of our own office’s civil rights and organized crime units as well as federal, state law and local enforcement agencies and non-governmental service organizations to target human traffickers while providing necessary services to those victimized by the traffickers. The Houston HTRA was one of the first of 42 such funded organizations and the first of its kind in Texas. The mission of the HTRA is to foster the collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies with area social service organizations to identify and assist the victims of human trafficking and to effectively identify, apprehend and prosecute those engaged in trafficking offenses.
In June 2014, a statewide campaign was launched targeting human trafficking. For more information, go to http://www.fbi.gov/houston/press-releases/2014/texans-unite-against-human-trafficking-local-state-and-federal-agencies-launch-statewide-campaign.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Davis is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.