Score:   1
Docket Number:   SD-TX  4:17-cr-00724
Case Name:   USA v. Rodriguez et al
  Press Releases:
HOUSTON – Two U.S. defendants are in custody on allegations of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, as well as visa fraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. 

 

A grand jury in Houston returned an indictment against purported Houston bounty hunter Luis De Jesus Rodriguez aka Htown Hunter, 26, and his girlfriend Helen Leon Mesa, 28, yesterday, which was unsealed today upon their arrests. They are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Palarmo on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. The indictment remains sealed as to another charged but not as yet in custody.

 

According to the partially-unsealed indictment, this international criminal network targeted, recruited and exploited young women in Colombia and the United States. They were allegedly given false promises of a better life by working for Rodriguez and Mesa as dancers at a Houston nightclub. During the victims’ recruitment, the defendants also directed them to watch YouTube videos portraying Rodriguez as a bounty hunter, creating the false impression that he was a law enforcement officer, according to the allegations.

 

The indictment further alleges that once the victims arrived in the United States, Rodriguez and Mesa placed the victims in a strip club in Houston and forced them into signing debt bondage contracts, ranging from $13,200 to $25,000. Rodriguez and Mesa also allegedly required victims to make daily payments of approximately $250 towards their debt. The charges also allege that to compel the victims into paying this daily quota, Rodriguez and Mesa engaged in a coercive scheme which involved threats to harm the victims and their families, constant monitoring and surveillance of their locations and cellphones and the ultimately forcing them into engaging in commercial sex acts.

 

According to the indictment, the defendants also engaged in widespread visa fraud to facilitate the international transportation of the victims. The traffickers and their conspirators allegedly assisted the victims in obtaining fraudulent visas by creating fictitious background and occupations to increase the likelihood that their visa applications would be approved. They also coached the victims as to what to say during the visa application interviews, according to the indictment.

 

If convicted of sex trafficking, the defendants face a minimum of 15 years and up to life imprisonment. The visa fraud charges carry a maximum of 10 years of federal imprisonment.

 

The Department of State - Diplomatic Security Service, Houston Police Department Vice Division – Human Trafficking Unit and IRS - Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation with assistance from the FBI as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). The General Attorney’s Office of Colombia, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Harris County District Attorney’s Office also assisted with the overall investigative effort.

 

Established in 2004, the United States Attorney’s office in Houston formed the HTRA to combine resources with federal, state and local 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. Attorneys Eun Kate Suh and Zahra Jivani Fenelon are prosecuting the case with assistance from the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, including the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.

 

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

Description: The fiscal year of the data file obtained from the AOUSC
Format: YYYY

Description: The code of the federal judicial circuit where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the federal judicial district where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: The code of the district office where the case was located
Format: A2

Description: Docket number assigned by the district to the case
Format: A7

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which cannot be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A unique number assigned to each defendant in a case which can be modified by the court
Format: A3

Description: A sequential number indicating whether a case is an original proceeding or a reopen
Format: N5

Description: Case type associated with the current defendant record
Format: A2

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, defendant number, and reopen sequence number
Format: A18

Description: A concatenation of district, office, docket number, case type, and reopen sequence number
Format: A15

Description: The status of the defendant as assigned by the AOUSC
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the fugitive status of a defendant
Format: A1

Description: The date upon which a defendant became a fugitive
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which a fugitive defendant was taken into custody
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date when a case was first docketed in the district court
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which proceedings in a case commenced on charges pending in the district court where the defendant appeared, or the date of the defendant’s felony-waiver of indictment
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code used to identify the nature of the proceeding
Format: N2

Description: The date when a defendant first appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: A code indicating the event by which a defendant appeared before a judicial officer in the district court where a charge was pending
Format: A2

Description: A code indicating the type of legal counsel assigned to a defendant
Format: N2

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE1
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE1
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE1
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the second highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE2
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE2
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE2
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the third highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE3
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE3
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE3
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the fourth highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE4
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE4
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE4
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE4
Format: A3

Description: The title and section of the U.S. Code applicable to the offense committed which carried the fifth highest severity
Format: A20

Description: A code indicating the level of offense associated with FTITLE5
Format: N2

Description: The four digit AO offense code associated with FTITLE5
Format: A4

Description: The four digit D2 offense code associated with FTITLE5
Format: A4

Description: A code indicating the severity associated with FTITLE5
Format: A3

Description: The FIPS code used to indicate the county or parish where an offense was committed
Format: A5

Description: The date of the last action taken on the record
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which judicial proceedings before the court concluded
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the final sentence is recorded on the docket
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The date upon which the case was closed
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: The total fine imposed at sentencing for all offenses of which the defendant was convicted and a fine was imposed
Format: N8

Description: A count of defendants filed including inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed excluding inter-district transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings commenced
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants filed whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated including interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated excluding interdistrict transfers
Format: N1

Description: A count of original proceedings terminated
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants terminated whose proceedings commenced by reopen, remand, appeal, or retrial
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period including long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: A count of defendants pending as of the last day of the period excluding long term fugitives
Format: N1

Description: The source from which the data were loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: A10

Description: A sequential number indicating the iteration of the defendant record
Format: N2

Description: The date the record was loaded into the AOUSC’s NewSTATS database
Format: YYYYMMDD

Description: Statistical year ID label on data file obtained from the AOUSC which represents termination year
Format: YYYY

Data imported from FJC Integrated Database
Arrest Start Date: Dec 08, 2017
Photo: Y
Arrested: 1
Rescued: Unknown
Country: US
State: TX
Comments: Sex trafficking
Arrest Start Date: Dec 08, 2017
Photo: N
Arrested: 1
Rescued: Unknown
Country: US
State: TX
Comments: Sex trafficking
Additional data courtesy @ArrestAnon 👼  
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