Three people charged with human trafficking

June 4, 2009 9:34:48 PM PDT
Three people are behind bars downtown for smuggling an underage teenager from Mexico into the United States and forcing her into prostitution in Houston. After four months, the girl finally contacted family to help her, but not until after she was supplied with a fake 21-year-old ID and forced into prostitution at local bars and cantinas.

The bright lights of Houston are where a Mexican teenager saw hope in helping her mother. Smuggled into Texas, the 15-year-old says Jorge Luis Aguila-Cuapio promised her restaurant work.

She hoped to send money back to her ailing mother in Mexico, but the game changed when she reached Houston four months ago.

"They forced her into prostitution when she got over here, telling her that her family would be injured or harmed if she did not comply," said Harris County Asst. District Attorney Donna Hawkins.

The DA's office says when she failed to reach her nightly quota at local bars and cantinas, things turned violent.

"If she didn't make enough money by prostituting herself at the cantinas, they would beat her," said Hawkins.

The teen finally made an outcry to family who contacted police and now Jorge Montano, 24, Sonia Tecuapacho, and Jorge Aguila-Cuapio, 19, are charged with first-degree human trafficking.

Aguila-Cuapio is also charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child for allegedly forcing her into sex.

"They are kids, they are naive, they are scared, they are brought here, and they are in a strange land in a strange culture," said KTRK National Security Analyst James Conway.

Former FBI agent Conway says it's not uncommon for human traffickers to turn illegal aliens into sex slaves.

"They're forced into prostitution. Oftentimes they are the victims of violence at the hands of those that bring them here. Also they are reminded the folks that brought them here know who their families are, and threaten their families with violence back home," said Conway.

Now the 15-year-old Mexican girl hopes her three alleged human traffickers won't be making anymore false promises.

"Sadly enough, that goes on everyday in the United States," said Conway.

We are told the girl was rescued in a southeast Houston apartment last month. All three suspects face up to life in prison and a $10,000 fine. One has made bail and two are still being held in the Harris County jail.

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