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June 13, 2019Houston, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Southwest Houston man pleads guilty to sex trafficking 3 women throughout more than 7 states

HOUSTON — A southwest Houston man pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to sex traffic three adult women by means of force and violence in Houston and other locations across the country.

This investigation is being conducted by the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). The following agencies participate in HTRA: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Houston Police Department, FBI, Texas Attorney General's Office, IRS’s Criminal Investigation, Department of Labor, Department of State, Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission, Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Coast Guard, Harris County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office, Harris County District Attorney's Office, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, and Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office.

Marquis Holmes, 28, from Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty June 13 to one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by means of force, fraud and coercion; two counts of transportation to engage in prostitution; and two counts of enticing and coercing another to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution.

From June 2015 until his arrest in March 2018, Holmes scoured social media websites to recruit women, often under false pretenses, to work as prostitutes for him. Under threat of violence and actual violence, Holmes prostituted two of these women in Houston and Austin, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Mississippi; Alabama; South Carolina, and other locations across the country. Holmes coerced the women to pose for pictures used in online ads for sex and to engage in commercial sex acts for money. Holmes collected all the money the women earned.

On March 30, 2018, authorities arrested Holmes, at which time a third victim was rescued along with her infant child. After repeatedly physically assaulting the woman, Holmes forced her to solicit commercial sex dates along the 1.3-mile stretch of Bissonnet St., commonly referred to as "The Track." If she did not meet the monetary quota Holmes had set, he beat her and deprived her of food.

Holmes has been and will remain in custody pending his sentencing, which is set for Sept. 19. At that time, he faces up to life in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sebastian Edwards and Carrie Wirsing, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

Established in 2004, HTRA combines resources from federal, state and local enforcement agencies and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental service organizations, to target human traffickers while providing necessary services to trafficking victims. Since its inception, HTRA has been recognized as both a national and international model in identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking, and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking offenses.