HOUSTON – A 45-year-old Honduran woman has been ordered to federal prison following her conviction of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Maria E. Gonzales Munoz aka “Merci,” co-owned numerous brothels, including Cocodrillos, that posed as bars in and around the Houston area which facilitated commercial sex. She pleaded guilty Jan. 21, 2016.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas, who accepted the guilty plea, handed Munoz a 151-month sentence. She was further ordered to pay a total of $2145 in restitution will be ordered to register as a sex offender.
The undercover operation revealed Munoz offered a female to as a prostitute at Cocodrillos. Even though the young female reported to be underage and had illegally entered the United States, Munoz still said she could work at Cocodrillos and even offered to provide living arrangements at her residence. Gonzales also informed the female that she could help her appear older through use of make-up and help her obtain a fraudulent identification card.
Munoz will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The investigation leading to the filing of criminal charges was the result of an investigation conducted by members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) in Houston, which includes the FBI, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Immigration and Customs-Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission, Department of State, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Houston Police Department.