22 Houston gang members indicted for multiple violent crimes, officials say

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HOUSTON - Investigators say 22 people have been indicted in an alleged street gang operation in Houston involving human smuggling, brothels and drugs.

Federal prosecutors say a 37-count indictment was returned earlier this month in Houston and partly unsealed Wednesday.

Authorities said the defendants are accused of operating several brothels in apartments throughout Houston, plus in Mexico. Prosecutors say some female immigrants were promised they could pay off the cost of smuggling them into the U.S. by working in Houston restaurants. The immigrants were instead forced into prostitution.

Those arrested during the enforcement actions on Tuesday include Houston residents Giovani Alecio aka Whiteboy, 26, Victor Javiel Gonzalez, 29, Maria Angelica Moreno-Reyna aka Patty, 51, Gabriela Gonzalez-Flores aka Gabby, 46, Eddie Torres aka Monterrey 38, Jose Luis Moreno aka Lucky, 23, Gilberto Espinoza Garcia, 49, Hector Reyna aka Pantera, 26; Jimmy Mejia Chavez, 33; and Grisel Salas aka Cris, 34, of Donna; and Jose Ruben Palomo-Martinez, 48, of Mission.

Two more defendants – Erik Ivan Alvarez-Chavez aka Casa, 39, and Denis Amaya Calballero aka Keiko, 25, both of Houston - were already in custody on related charges and are expected to make their appearances in federal court in the near future.

Nine others are also charged but not as yet in custody. Bianca Stephanie Reyna aka Troubles, 20, Claudia Soriano-Hernandez, 26, Juan Carlos Contreras Cervantes, 25, all from Houston; Raul Moreno Reyna aka Coney, 53, William Alberto Lopez, 27, Anadalit Duarte aka Paola, 25, and Walter Lopez, 26, all originally from Houston but believed to have fled to Mexico; and Israel Juarez Sifuentes, 43, and Melissa Dominguez aka Missy, 50, both of Donna; are considered fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests. Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to contact the FBI Houston field office at 713-693-5000.

PHOTOS: Wanted gang members in the Houston area

All of the defendants are indicted in the criminal scheme as alleged members or affiliates of the Southwest Cholos. All are charged in varying counts to include multiple conspiracy counts; sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion; transportation to engage in prostitution; enticing or coercing another to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution; transportation of illegal aliens; importation of aliens for immoral purposes; possession with the intent to distribute heroin; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines; illegal dealing of firearms; felon in possession of a firearm; illegal re-entry; false statements; and aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, the defendants operated several brothels in apartments throughout Houston as well as in Mexico. The primary location was the Carriage Way Apartment Complex on Dashwood in southwest Houston, which was also home to their base of operations for drug and firearms trafficking, according to the allegations.

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