3 more individuals charged with sex trafficking young runaway girls in Houston-area human trafficking conspiracy
HOUSTON – Three more individuals have been indicted and additional charges have been filed in a human trafficking conspiracy involving young runaway girls on the “Bissonnet Track” in southwest Houston.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston; Houston Police Department; and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office conducted the investigation as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance.
Law enforcement arrested Chantel Deshay Collins, 28, Houston, and Asia Monae Hailey, 21, Galveston, Wednesday. They are expected to appear for an initial appearance Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Andrew Edison. Michael Gonzalez, 21, Houston, is currently in the Harris County (Texas) jail on other charges and is expected to be transferred to federal court to answer these charges by the end of the week.
Also charged are Clarence Chambers, 29, Javon Opoku, 20, Damarquis McGee, 23, Jerreck Hilliard, Vanessa Sillabi, 21, and Andres Portillo, 20. They are expected to appear on the new charges in the superseding indictment Dec. 23 before Judge Edison.
The defendants are charged with trafficking young runaway girls on what it known as the “Blade” or the Bissonnet Track in southwest Houston. This is an area near Southwest 59 Freeway and Bissonnet Street in Houston where traffickers commonly place their victims, according to the charges.
In addition to the sex trafficking allegations, the superseding indictment includes new charges against many for kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a child, attempted obstruction of justice and attempted coercion/enticement of a child.
According to the superseding indictment, the defendants worked to recruit underage teenage girls and forced them to engage in sex acts for money in cars and hotels around the Blade. They allegedly passed around or reassigned victims amongst one another, taught each other “the pimp game” and required the young girls to walk the Blade and sell their bodies. They also kept the proceeds, according to the charges.
The superseding indictment further alleges if any of the girls wanted to switch between pimps, they would have to pay an exit fee or get “beat out” to do so. In one instance, a minor girl had allegedly wandered onto a rival pimp’s territory. The charges allege she was kidnapped and raped as a consequence.
Some of those charged also required daily quotas each night from their victims, according to the charges. The superseding indictment further alleges if the girls failed to meet their daily quotas, they were severely punished through beatings and humiliation. In some cases, pimps allegedly instructed other females to carry out these beatings as punishment. At other times, some defendants worked with the pimps to help harbor, manage, maintain, transport or collect sex trafficking proceeds from the minor victims, according to the charges.
If convicted, they all could face up to life in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Bennett and Kate Suh are 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.
HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.