Fugitive accused of being pimp for Houston gang brothels in federal custody
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After months of evading arrest, an alleged leader in an international gang-run brothel operation was arraigned in Houston federal court Thursday following a dramatic arrest this week in Mexico.

William Alberto Lopez, 28, of Houston, was indicted by a federal grand jury in November, along with two dozen others, on allegations he was a pimp and enforcer for a brothel linked to members of  the Southwest Cholos gang in Gulfton. The Bellaire-area group specialized in recruiting undocumented women and compelling them through violence to work as prostitutes, and tracked them down even after they fled across borders to get away from the underground sex business, authorities allege.

RELATED: Feds: Gang brothel enslaved women in Gulfton

Officials said Lopez assumed a false identity using fraudulent Mexican identification and became combative as Mexican authorities attempted to detain him Wednesday in Mexico. According to court documents, he repeatedly stated that he refused to return to the United States.

PHOENIX (AP) - A hearing is scheduled Thursday over whether a founder of the classified advertising site Backpage.com should be released from jail on charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering. The detention hearing for James Larkin

Media: Fox10Phoenix

Lopez waived his right to a bail hearing Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy. He is set for trial along with the other defendants on Oct. 9. He faces 22 criminal charges including conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking through force, threats, fraud and coercion, transporting people across borders to engage in prostitution

A prosecutor told a federal judge at a detention hearing last fall that Lopez, a Houston native, was one of five sons helping their mother, co-defendant Maria Angelica "Patty" Moreno-Reyna, run the brothel for eight years in a southwest Houston apartment complex. But Lopez was also in charge of what Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Goldman called a "farm team" brothel in Cancun, Mexico, where women were trained before being illegally shuttled across the U.S. border and up to Houston to work at the gang's main brothel at a modest apartment complex.

Lopez was among the most ruthless in his treatment of the women who worked at the brothel, witnesses said.

Gabrielle Banks covers federal court for the Houston Chronicle. Follow her on Twitter and send her email at gabrielle.banks@chron.com.

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