HOUSTON (AP) - 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. The conspiracy-related counts are linked to sex trafficking, prostitution, transportation of immigrants, plus drug and weapons charges.
Authorities say 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.
Prosecutors say some defendants were arrested this week, while others were already in custody as part of the investigation. Nine suspects remained at large Wednesday.