HOUSTON – More than a dozen alleged members and associates
of the Southwest Cholos street gang are set to appear in federal court on a
variety of charges to include sex trafficking, drug trafficking, selling
firearms, human smuggling and identity theft, announced Acting U.S. Attorney
A federal grand jury returned the 37-count indictment Nov.
2, 2017. It was partially unsealed today following a motion in federal court.
Those arrested during the enforcement actions yesterday
include Houston residents Giovani Alecio aka Whiteboy, 26, Victor Javiel
Gonzalez, 29, Maria Angelica Moreno-Reyna aka Patty, 51, Gabriela
Gonzalez-Flores aka Gabby, 46, Eddie Torres aka Monterrey 38, Jose Luis Moreno
aka Lucky, 23, Gilberto Espinoza Garcia, 49, Hector Reyna aka Pantera, 26;
Jimmy Mejia Chavez, 33; and Grisel Salas aka Cris, 34, of Donna; and Jose Ruben
Palomo-Martinez, 48, of Mission. Those arrested in the Houston area are
expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy
Johnson at 10:00 a.m. today.
Two more defendants – Erik Ivan Alvarez-Chavez aka Casa, 39,
and Denis Amaya Calballero aka Keiko, 25, both of Houston - were already in
custody on related charges and are expected to make their appearances in
federal court in the near future.
Nine others are also charged but not as yet in custody.
Bianca Stephanie Reyna aka Troubles, 20, Claudia Soriano-Hernandez, 26, Juan
Carlos Contreras Cervantes, 25, all from
Houston; Raul Moreno Reyna aka Coney, 53,William Alberto Lopez, 27, Anadalit
Duarte aka Paola, 25, and Walter Lopez, 26, all originally from Houston but
believed to have fled to Mexico; and Israel Juarez Sifuentes, 43, and Melissa
Dominguez aka Missy, 50, both of Donna; are considered fugitives and warrants
remain outstanding for their arrests. Anyone with information about their
whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI Houston field office at 713-693-5000.
All of the defendants are indicted in the criminal scheme as
alleged members or affiliates of the Southwest Cholos. All are charged in
varying counts to include multiple conspiracy counts; sex trafficking by force,
fraud or coercion; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion;
transportation to engage in prostitution; enticing or coercing another to
travel in interstate commerce for prostitution; transportation of illegal
aliens; importation of aliens for immoral purposes; possession with the intent
to distribute heroin; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines;
illegal dealing of firearms; felon in possession of a firearm; illegal
re-entry; false statements; and aggravated identity theft.
According to the indictment, the defendants operated several
brothels in apartments throughout Houston as well as in Mexico. The primary
location was the Carriage Way Apartment Complex on Dashwood in southwest
Houston, which was also home to their base of operations for drug and firearms
trafficking, according to the allegations.
In the sex trafficking scheme, illegal aliens were allegedly
promised they could work in a restaurant to pay off their smuggling debts.
After arriving in Houston, however, victims were told they actually had to work
as prostitutes in brothels the alleged gang members controlled. The indictment
alleges the defendants engaged in numerous acts and threats of violence against
the victims and their families whenever the women refused to work as
prostitutes or failed to make enough money.
The indictment further alleges the defendants would tattoo
their names or nicknames on the victims to identify them as their property and
demonstrate control over them.
Authorities have identified at least six trafficking
victims, the youngest of whom was 14. At the time of arrests, seven more
victims were found in the brothels.
Some of the defendants also allegedly engaged in human
smuggling separate from the sex trafficking scheme. The indictment alleges at
least nine aliens have been identified as being smuggled through stash houses
some of the defendants controlled in the Rio Grande Valley to locations in
Houston. The smuggled aliens paid substantial sums, including two Chinese
nationals who each paid more than $40,000, according to the charges. During the
enforcement actions yesterday, 16 more smuggled aliens were discovered in area
The indictment also alleges several counts of heroin and
methamphetamine trafficking and the selling of numerous stolen firearms
If convicted of sex trafficking, the defendants face a
minimum of 15 years and up to life imprisonment. Those charged with the drug
trafficking also face up to life with a minimum of 10 years as possible
punishment. The human smuggling charges carry a maximum of 20 years
imprisonment, while those convicted in the illegal trafficking of firearms face
another five years imprisonment.
Soriano-Hernandez, Mejia-Chavez and Contreras-Cervantes were
also indicted for illegally re-entering the United States following deportation
for which they face up to two years imprisonment, while Javiel Gonzalez is also
charged as a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and faces up to 10
Alvarez-Chavez also allegedly stole the identity of a
Salvadoran man so he could obtain temporary protected status as a citizen of
that country. If convicted, he faces a mandatory two years which must be served
consecutively to any other prison term imposed.
The FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Harris County
Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security
Investigations and Houston Police Department conducted the investigation as
part of both the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Human
Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). The case is also an example of the
coordination among law enforcement who are part of the
Houston Law Enforcement Violent Crime Initiative announced in June 2017
which combines personnel and resources from numerous federal, state and local
agencies. The goal of the initiative is to proactively fight and reduce violent
crime across the Greater Houston area by targeting the region’s most violent
offenders, augmenting investigative and prosecutorial efforts, and enhancing
training, public awareness and education.
Established in 2004, the United States Attorney’s office in
Houston formed the HTRA to combine resources with federal, state and local law
enforcement agencies and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental service
organizations to target human traffickers while providing necessary services to
those that the traffickers victimized. Since its inception, HTRA has been
recognized as a national model in identifying and assisting victims of human
trafficking and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking offenses. In 2016, the
Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance received $1.5 million in federal funds from
the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office for Victims of Crime through
the Enhanced Collaborative Model Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force Program,
which provides funding to investigate and prosecute cases of human trafficking
and provide services to victims.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Goldman is prosecuting the