A Houston bounty hunter and bondsman who billed himself as the Htown
Hunter and his girlfriend are expected in federal court in Houston
Friday to see whether they'll remain in custody pending trial on charges
they ran an international sex trafficking ring.
Luis De Jesus Rodriguez, 26, and Helen Leon Mesa, 28, are
scheduled for a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena
Palermo after being indicted for conspiring to recruit, entice,
transport coerce four Colombian women to come to Houston under false
pretenses and work as prostitutes to pay back their debt. They are also
charged with visa fraud for helping the women lie on applications with
the U.S. Embassy to come to the U.S.
They each face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the steepest charge, they said.
A Colombian man also indicted in the case and being
sought on allegations he helped recruit the women in Colombia has not
been identified by Justice Department officials.
Investigators say Rodriguez and Mesa told the women they
could work as dancers at a Houston nightclub, according to court
They helped the women obtain visas and coached them to list fake occupations so they would get approved for tourist visas.
Once the victims arrived in the U.S., Rodriguez and Mesa
got them jobs at strip club and forced them to pay back the debt they
charged for finding them employment, which ranged from $13,200 to
$25,000 in installments of up to $250 daily.
The victims lived with the couple and used cell phones
they provided, which Rodriguez and Mesa allegedly used to monitor their
whereabouts, documents state. They threatened the women and their
families if they tried to flee, according to court documents.