Mexican national Gerardo “El-Gallo” (“The Rooster”) Salazar 51, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in an international sex trafficking ring, the Houston Chronicle is reporting.
The notorious sex trafficker, shackled in an orange prison jumpsuit and speaking through a translator, appeared in court Monday. He apologized to Jesus Christ and to U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore.
“Please understand that with all due respect I am a victim too. I never intended to harm anyone. If I did I ask for their forgiveness.”
Salazar was sentenced by Judge Gilmore to the highest possible sentence of 40 years. He could qualify to be free only on three years’ supervised release at the twilight age of 91. Gilmore, in a raised tone, said “He victimized women and he doesn’t care. He hasn’t learnt a thing.”
El Gallo pleaded guilty to four counts of holding immigrants for the purpose of prostitution. Most of the victims came from backwater villages in Central Mexico, and were held in large numbers in a seedy apartment before being transported to brothels, where they were coerced to have sex with multiple clients every night without pay.
In 2005, Salazar and six accomplices, including his two sons and two nephews, were indicted in a major prosecution by Houston’s Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance, the most active anti-trafficking task force in America. They discovered that Salazar had wooed a lengthy list of Mexican victims into the country with false promises of the American dream.
Dozens of state and federal officers launched a massive raid on an apartment and cantinas along the Gulf Freeway and a number of arrests were made. Only “El Gallo” escaped. Authorities believe he was tipped off.
Salazar was driving a red Trans Am when he was stopped on a highway by Mexican Federal Police near his hometown in. He identified himself as “Pedro,” and offered his car and house to the officers to let him go. He had been on the run for five years after making the FBI’s Most Wanted List. He was arrested and extradited back to the U.S. in 2014.
U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, chairman of the House Victims Rights Caucus, said “The arrogance of this guy to tattoo these girls shows they were really regarded as property. We brand cattle in Texas. This guy branded his victims.”
“Countries must do more worldwide to combat both the supply and the demand for forced labor and sex slaves, so that traffickers can’t avoid prosecution by crossing a border. It is second worldwide only to the drug trade. And the reason it’s growing is because the risk of apprehension is less and the profits are high. Drugs you sell once, children you sell 10 or 15 times a night,” Poe concluded.
“He didn’t ask for mercy for his victims, he asked for mercy for himself. He brought these girls over here in search of the American dream. Once they got here, they ran smack into the American nightmare,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruben Perez, who worked years for Mexican law enforcement to accelerate Salazar’s extradition.
[Image via FBI/The Houston Chronicle]