Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment against members of the Southwest Cholos on Wednesday, charging members of the Houston-based gang with sex trafficking and drug smuggling.
The indictment includes charges against four Rio Grande Valley-based members of the gang, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Members operated brothels, where they forced women and girls to work as prostitutes, according to the indictment. The organization operated in Hidalgo County, Cameron County, Webb County, Houston and Cancun, Mexico.
“As part of this sex trafficking scheme, SWC members and associates would lie to their sex trafficking victims by falsely telling them they were going to work in a restaurant when, in fact, they would work in brothels,” according to the indictment.
The Southwest Cholos also tattooed their names and nicknames on sex trafficking victims, according to the indictment.
Victims included girls as young as 14 years old.
The indictment names four Rio Grande Valley gang members:
- Grisel “Cris” Salas, 34, of Donna
- Jose Ruben Palomo-Martinez, 48, of Mission
- Israel Juarez Sifuentes, 43, of Donna
- Melissa “Missy” Dominguez, 50, of Donna
Officers arrested Salas and Palomo. Sifuentes and Dominguez remain fugitives.