HOUSTON — Four Houston-area gang members are in custody on federal charges, accused of trafficking, beating and torturing their underage victims, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Clarence “Chris” Chambers, 29, Javon “Glizzy” Opukul, 20, Damarquis “Lil Blue” McGee, 23, and Andres “Andro” Portillo, 20, are charged with human trafficking.
Editor's note: The video above on the problem of sex trafficking in America originally aired on January 1, 2021.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery, the suspects recruited young runaways and forced them to engage in sex acts for money in cars and hotels in southwest Houston. Lowery says the girls were forced to solicit customers in an area known as "The Blade” or the Bissonnet Track, near the Southwest Freeway.
Some of the defendants allegedly required nightly quotas from their victims. If the girls failed to meet their quotas, they were severely punished through beatings and humiliation, according to the indictment.
Investigators say they passed around or reassigned victims among each other, taught each other “the pimp game” and kept all the money the girls made.
If convicted, each defendant faces from 15 years to life in federal prison.
The Houston Police Department initiated the investigation. They later partnered with Homeland Security Investigations and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA).
Established in 2004, HTRA combines resources with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental service organizations. Along with targeting human traffickers, they offer services to the victims. Since its inception, HTRA has been recognized as both a national and international model in identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking and prosecuting those engaged in trafficking offenses.