Police arrest 3 in human trafficking ring

Police say Solomon Pate, 26, Rebecca Chap, 26, and Demetrick Cooks, 26, (pictured left to right) are the ringleaders of the forced prostitution enterprise.

August 24, 2012 7:37:35 PM PDT
Two Houston women have been rescued in Austin from what police are calling a sex trafficking ring. Investigators say the women were drugged, threatened, and forced into prostitution.

Austin police closed in on the sex trafficking ring after two victims from Houston managed to escape, and alert authorities they'd been abducted and forced into prostitution.

"The two victims gave pretty detailed information about the two suspects that were involved in this," said Lt. Jerry Gonzalez with the Austin Police Department. "The vehicle information they were driving, the hotel where they had been staying."

After days of surveillance, Austin police closed in on the prostitution ring, at the La Quinta inn in downtown Austin. Three suspects are arrested and charged with human trafficking -- Solomon Pate, of Lake Jackson, and Demetrick Cooks and Rebecca Chap of Florida. The trio is accused of forcing at least four women into prostitution on 6th Street with the intention of stealing from their customers.

Lt. Gonzalez said, "One woke up with a sore jaw during this ordeal. She doesn't where she was beaten but we believe the pimps probably did that to her."

The two Houston women, both severely physically injured, planned an escape to a Round Rock hospital where they called police.

"They both are afraid," Lt. Gonzalez said. "They fear for their lives and they fear for the lives of their children."

According to Travis County court records, Pate threatened to kill both Houston women and one of the women's children if they didn't follow his orders. Threats and fear, one anti-trafficking advocate told me, are common in human trafficking cases.

Kendra Penry with Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition said, "The idea that physical force is definitely a way to force someone to do something they don't want to do. It's a way to punish people, a way maintain control over someone."

Houston police have rescued one of the victim's two children from a babysitter's house. That babysitter is involved with the suspects.

All three suspects are in the Travis County Jail. Bail for each is set at $500,000. As the investigation unfolds more arrests are possible.

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