HOUSTON – Four Houston-area residents have been charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to do so, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Maria Botello, 54, her son – Edgar Botello, 28, her nephew – Arian Botello, 23 and her daughter – Yudy Lucatero, 31, are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy at 2 p.m. tomorrow.
The criminal complaint, filed March 30, alleges that from 2007 to 2020, the family members coerced waitresses working at the Houston bar Puerto Alegre to engage in commercial sex acts. The victims allegedly included adults and at least one minor.
The charges allege Maria Botello coordinated “dates” with clients who paid $70 for every 15 minutes with the girls. Edgar and Arian Botello were the enforcers who used weapons, threats and intimidation to keep the victims compliant, according to the complaint. The investigation also revealed Lucatero and Maria Botello discussed the rules and procedures in relation to the sex trafficking.
Authorities ultimately identified another victim who was brought to the United States specifically to work at Puerto Alegre, according to the allegations. While there, she was allegedly forced to engage in commercial sex. The charges allege she was only 17 at the time.
If convicted, the family members each face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison.
Authorities are also urging members of the public to report signs of potential human trafficking to authorities.
Department of Justice | Southern District of Texas