23 Alleged Member of 'Southwest Cholos' Gang Facing Charges

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WESLACO – Some members of the Southwest Cholos, a criminal organization accused of sex trafficking, are from the Rio Grande Valley.

Federal prosecutors said the gang used the Valley as a midpoint for a 1700-mile trafficking ring, starting from Cancun, Mexico to Houston.

They said the group promised restaurant jobs to women who lived outside the U.S.

 According to the indictment, the women were smuggled across the border and ended up in stash houses in the Valley.

Prosecutors said the gang members would then tell the women they’re in debt and forced them to work in brothels.

They said the prostitution would happen in Houston after they got the women through the Sarita and Falfurrias checkpoints.

One defendant, in particular, faced charges earlier this year for allegedly smuggling people.

A Homeland Security investigator said Jose Ruben Palomo Martinez drove a tractor-trailer through the Falfurrias checkpoint, claiming it was full of melons.

After inspecting the rig with an X-ray scanner, the agents said they found two Chinese nationals and a Dominican man with no restraints, no food and no water.

Palomo Martinez and 22 other defendants face charges for their alleged role in the human trafficking ring. 


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