HOUSTON (KHOU)- Gerardo Salazar has landed in the U.S. to face charges related to the smuggling of minor girls and young women from Mexico, forced into service as prostitutes in Houston area bars, federal investigators announced Thursday afternoon.
"The formal arrest following the successful extradition of the defendant today represents our commitment to bring those accused of human trafficking to the bar of justice," said U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
"The victims in this case were young Mexican women and girls alleged to have been beaten and forced into prostitution inside Houston area cantinas," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Carlos J. Barron of the FBI. "Let Salazar's return provide assurance to these victims and others that those who engage in the egregious crimes of human trafficking will be pursued around the globe and brought to justice."
Salazar, 47, of Mexico City, Mexico, had been a fugitive since 2005. He was recently arrested in Mexico and arrived in Houston Thursday afternoon. He is expected to make an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy on Friday.
Salazar, also known as "El Gallo," was indicted in 2005 along with Mexican nationals Salvador Fernando Molina Garcia, Angel Moreno Salazar, Jose Luis Moreno Salazar, Juan Carlos Salazar and Ivan Salazar.
The indictment alleged "El Gallo" was the leader of the group. He is charged with conspiracy, sex trafficking, transportation of minor for immoral purposes, alien harboring for prostitution and transportation of illegal aliens.
If convicted, he faces up to life in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
All the other co-defendants have entered guilty pleas in the case and were sentenced to federal prison.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and others as part of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance.
The Justice Department's Office of International Affairs provided assistance with the extradition.