The 68-year-old woman behind a 14-defendant sex trafficking ring operating in Houston has been ordered to federal prison for life.
A federal jury convicted Hortencia Medeles-Arguello aka Raquel Medeles Garcia, Raquel Medeles Garcia or “Tencha,” April 24, 2015, following a 10-day trial and approximately four hours of deliberations.
She was convicted on all counts – conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, conspiracy to harbor aliens, aiding and abetting to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Testimony revealed that pimps recruited the young girls by convincing them they were in love, making threats to their families as well as threatening the girls themselves. Testimony revealed Tencha knew that many of the girls prostituted at her establishment were either underage or victims of the beatings by their pimps.
On the first full day of trial, the jury heard from one of the victims in the case. She detailed the horrific conditions she faced at the hands of the defendant and others, to include being forced into having sex at age 14 after she had come to this country in search of a better life. She described how she was forced to comply with demands at gunpoint and locked in a room. She was eventually impregnated by a “customer” and was moved to another area of the bar because she was not worth as much once she became pregnant. Following the move, she found a way to escape with the help of a customer who had befriended her.
Evidence at trial indicated that Tencha made more than $1.6 million in a 19-month period by supplying the upper floor of her cantina for prostitutes to ply their trade. The evidence further revealed that many of the prostitutes were either minors or forced to engage in sex acts at the defendant’s bar. The jury heard that Tencha had engaged in harboring illegal aliens, many who were forced into prostitution for more than 13 years.
She will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.