Houston Woman Convicted for Sex Trafficking of a Minor in Two-Day Bench Trial
HOUSTON—A bench trial concluded late yesterday ultimately convicting Luisa Vargas, 53, a legal permanent resident residing in Houston, of sex trafficking of a minor and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
The evidence at trial proved that in or about February 2012 until approximately May 2013, Vargas employed women and a girl less than age 18 as prostitutes in the Westview apartments used as a brothel. These women and young girl were instructed as to how much money to charge their clients for commercial sex. Approximately half of the proceeds were given to Vargas. As a general practice, the price paid was $40 for 15 minutes of sex. Vargas knew that most, if not all, of the ladies employed for the purpose of prostitution were aliens illegally within the United States.
United States District Judge Lynn N. Hughes handed down the conviction and set sentencing for Sept. 21, 2015. At that time, she faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Co-defendants Dolores Vargas, Blasina Vargas and Ignacio Escandon pleaded guilty in March 2015 to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors and will be sentenced Oct. 19, 2015.
All will remain in custody pending their sentencing hearings.
The charges were the of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Houston Police Department and Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Davis and Julie Searle prosecuted the case.