A bounty hunter in Houston and his girlfriend are accused of targeting, recruiting and exploiting young women from Colombia. The U.S. Department of Justice says Luis de Jesus Rodriguez, 26, and his girlfriend Helen Leon Mesa, 28, have been arrested after a grand jury indicted them for an international sex-trafficking conspiracy.
Rodriguez and his girlfriend promised young women from Colombia a better life in the United States if they came and danced at a Houston nightclub. A statement from the Department of Justice says, "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."
Court documents reveal once the victims were smuggled into the states, Rodriguez and Mesa would put them in strip clubs and them "into signing debt bondage contracts, ranging from $13,200 to $25,000. The couple extorted $250 daily from each victim by threatening to harm their family and "ultimately forcing them into engaging in commercial sex acts."
The indictments also allege the pair acted in visa fraud to transport the victims along with teaching them what to say to pass visa applications. The Department of Justice says another person has been charged but has not yet been arrested and their identity is still sealed.
Rodriguez and Mesa face a minimum of 15 years to life in prison if convicted of sex trafficking. They are also facing a maximum of 10 years in prison for the visa fraud charges alone.
Tips? Info? Send me a message!