Man admits to working with mom to sex traffic waitresses out of family-owned cantina in east Houston

KTRK logo
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Family forced waitresses at bar to perform sex acts, feds say
A Houston mom, her children and her nephew are now facing life in prison on sex trafficking charges.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 30-year-old man pleaded guilty to sex trafficking waitresses, including a minor, out of the backroom of the cantina that his family owned, about a month after his mom admitted to coordinating the brothel.

Edgar Botello admitted to sex trafficking with force, fraud, or coercion, and conspiracy to do so, as well as possession of child pornography.

Botello reportedly worked with his mother, Maria Botello-Morales, to run a cantina known as Puerto Alegre. Authorities say they forced several girls to engage in commercial sex in backrooms built specifically for that purpose from 2015 to 2020.

The video above is from ABC13's previous report on Maria Botello-Morales, where her family was also accused in the sex trafficking operation.

Botello-Morales, who authorities said was living illegally in Houston, pleaded guilty to the accusations in January.

Authorities said they both will remain in custody leading up to their sentencing scheduled in June. The duo faces up to life in prison for the sex trafficking charges. Botello faces up to another 10 years for the possession of child porn.

ABC13 reported on the family in 2021, when allegations of Botello-Morales running the sex trafficking operation with her family came to light.

READ MORE: Family accused of forcing waitresses at Houston bar to perform sex acts

The victims included adults and at least one minor.

On April 2, 2021, law enforcement searched Botello's residence where they found numerous weapons in his room and a computer with child pornography.

Authorities said Botello-Morales recruited an underaged girl from Mexico in 2007 to engage in commercial sex and then took payment from the buyers.

The victims told investigators that they started at the bar as waitresses, but things quickly turned when Botello-Morales told them they had to engage in commercial sex.

The Harris County District Attorney's office said in a press release that Botello threatened and intimidated these victims with violence to manipulate them into sex acts for his personal financial benefit.

According to a complaint filed on March 30, 2021, Botello's cousin, Arian Botello, was another so-called "enforcer" who used weapons, threats, and intimidation to keep the women compliant.

Some victims told investigators that they even witnessed violence and weapons at the bar and in the back area where the sex crimes would occur.

Another victim described that when she refused to go back to work, Botello-Morales sent someone to physically assault her.

The victims told investigators how they were given a condom wrapped in a paper towel, to spend no longer than 15 minutes in a backroom with customers, and had to charge approximately $70. On the way out, they had to turn the money over to whoever was guarding the room.

Botello-Morales' daughter, Yudy Lucatero, and her cousin, Arian Botello, were charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to do so in March 2021.

WATCH: Survivor talks on being 'groomed' as a teen for sex trafficking at school amid Texas' new law

As part of Houston-area school campuses introducing the new "No Trafficking Zone" law, a sex trafficking victim offers her story of being groomed while she was a teen.