Ken Paxton

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Case You Missed It: Texas Attorney General Collaboration Leads to Arrests in Alleged Houston-Area Sex Trafficking Operation

The following news release was issued by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas on August 19, 2010:


(HOUSTON) Enforcement action taken at various locations throughout the Houston area on Wednesday by members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) has resulted in the arrest of a man from the Dominican Republic for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, the arrest of a woman for harboring aliens and the rescue of several women from a life of prostitution, United States Attorney Jos Angel Moreno announced today.

Pedro Corporan Cedano, aka Joselo, 38, a citizen of the Dominican Republic illegally in the United States, was arrested Wednesday morning during a traffic stop near his Deer Park, Texas, residence. A criminal complaint filed under seal on Monday, Aug. 16, 2010, and unsealed following his arrest, charges Cedano with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Cedano used several apartments in and around Houston and in Pasadena, Texas, to promote and provide commercial sex which allegedly involved the harboring of women illegally in the country some of whom were paying off smuggling fees through prostitution.

Today, a separate criminal complaint was filed against Carmen Angeles, 33, born in the Dominican Republic and a naturalized U.S. citizen, accusing her of harboring aliens. Angeles was arrested yesterday at one of the apartments used for sex trafficking located on Goodson Drive in Houston as a result of the ongoing investigation. According to the allegations in the criminal complaint, Angeles used the Goodson apartment to knowingly harbor two illegal aliens. The complaint further alleges that Angeles used the illegal aliens housed at the Goodson location to provide commercial sex to customers.

Cedano appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Houston this morning and has been ordered temporarily detained in federal custody pending a bond hearing set for Monday, Aug. 23, 2010, on the government’s motion to hold him in federal custody without bond pending further criminal proceedings. Angeles is expected to make her initial appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge on Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, at which time the issue of her continued detention is expected to be raised.

As a result of yesterday’s court ordered enforcement action, a total of nine women illegally in the United States were found in a number of apartments allegedly controlled by Cedano. The undocumented aliens, who are likely to be designated material witnesses in the case, are presently in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI).

The offense of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking carries a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine upon conviction. The offense of harboring illegal aliens carries a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine upon conviction.

The HTRA is a collaboration of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies working together with area social service organizations to identify and assist the victims of human trafficking and to effectively identify, apprehend and prosecute those engaged in trafficking. HTRA members involved in the investigation and today’s enforcement action include the FBI, ICE HSI, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Department of State Diplomatic Security Service, Texas Attorney General’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ruben Perez, Joseph Magliolo and Kebharu H. Smith are prosecuting the case.

A complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.