Multi-agency operation leads to arrest of human trafficking suspect and rescue of victims

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AUSTIN — A multi-agency operation in  El Paso has led to the arrest of one alleged human trafficker and the rescue of four victims of human trafficking. On June 15, 35-year-old Mario Josue Escajeda was arrested on aggravated promotion of prostitution, outstanding warrants and charged with unlawfully carrying weapons.

Escajeda, the owner of the Outskirts Gentlemen’s Club in El Paso County, allegedly offered to supply women for sex in exchange for money. Agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission conducted the operation at an El Paso hotel with the assistance of the El Paso County Attorney’s Office, El Paso Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.

Escajeda arrived at the El Paso hotel with four women and was arrested. He was carrying two concealed handguns and a stash of cash. The’ four women, whose ages range from 19 to 39, were interviewed by TABC’s victim’s services coordinator and provided assistance.

“TABC is committed to using our vital resources to break up these organized criminal enterprises that are preying on women and girls,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “We’re thankful for the hard work of all of the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that are partnering with us to bring traffickers to justice and rescue victims.”

Following the sting, TABC agents executed a search warrant at the Outskirts Gentlemen’s Club. The club was shut down by the El Paso County Attorney’s Office for operating a sexually oriented business without a license and illegally selling alcohol for nine months without a TABC license. Isaac Salazar, the manager of the club, was also arrested during the warrant execution for sale of alcohol without a permit,

The El Paso County Attorney’s Office will decide on what additional charges Escajeda may face. The club will remain closed pending the outcome of a temporary injunction hearing scheduled for June 24.

As part of the on-going investigation, anyone who may have been victimized by the suspect or who has information about potential victims, is urged to contact the TABC Victims Services Office at 713-494-5869 to file a report.

TABC is a critical part of the fight against human trafficking. As the state’s sole regulator of the alcoholic beverage industry, agents can enter a licensed bar, restaurant, hotel or other alcohol retailer to investigate suspected trafficking. TABC is committed to using its resources to break up organized criminal enterprises and rescue victims.

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