Four Houston women have been arrested and accused of forcing underage girls into prostitution in apartments that doubled as illegal underground brothels on the city's West side.
53-year-old Blasina Vargas, 63-year-old Luisa Vargas, 48-year-old Dolores Vargas and Ignacio Escandon are charged with three counts of sex trafficking of a minor, and one count of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens, authorities announced Wednesday.
The four women had been running several Westview-area apartments as illegal brothels since at least February 2012, according to federal prosecutors, where they were allegedly forced several underage girls into prostitution.
Prosecutors allege that the women taught the girls, undocumented Mexican citizens, how to solicit customers and charge for sex.
But while the young girls were the ones put to work in the brothels, prosecutors allege the defendants acted as pimps, keeping the fees the men paid for the girls' services.
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The women have also been charged with harboring and concealing undocumented immigrants.
Three of the women, Dolores Vargas, Blasina Vargas and Escandon, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances H. Stacy in Houston on Wednesday.
Luisa Vargas was expected to appear before a judge in Miami, where she was arrested.
The indictment has been under seal since August 20, but was only fully unsealed recently after the women were arrested by federal authorities.