Sex-traffickers' property to aid victims

April 18, 2012 at 5:34 PM
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HOUSTON, April 18 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ruled that five teenagers forced into prostitution by a Houston couple will receive money from the sale of their real estate.

The properties are valued at $602,000. U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes said Tuesday the money should be split among the five to "try to restore them to well-adjusted productivity," the San Antonio Express-News reported.

The judge cited education and medical and psychological treatment.

Maria "Nancy" Rojas, who ran a sex-trafficking business with her partner, Javier Belamonte, was sentenced to 16 years this month. Belamonte is awaiting sentencing.

"The goal was not only to prosecute these people, but to dismantle this organization and take away all of their ill-gotten gains," Ruben Perez, a federal prosecutor, said.

Hughes said he was unable to determine the injuries suffered by nine older women cited by prosecutors. He said some had married or at least had children by people involved in the trafficking ring.

Gerardo "El Gallo" Salazar, who allegedly supplied Rojas with Mexican girls, was arrested in 2010 and is being held in Mexico pending extradition to the United States. Investigators say he found girls in small towns, wooed them and had them tattooed with a rooster or "gallo."

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