AUSTIN — A San Antonio man was sentenced by a jury to 35 years in prison on charges of human trafficking and 15 years for aggravated promotion of prostitution following a weeklong trial in the 290th District Court concluding Jan. 17 in Bexar County.
Eric Laranze Taylor, 28, was arrested and charged with the offenses in 2018, after a joint investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, and Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
“This heavy sentence sends a clear message that trafficking will not be tolerated in our state,” TABC Chairman Kevin Lilly said. “All of us at TABC remain committed to identifying and stopping human trafficking, whether it takes place within a licensed bar or club, or anywhere else. We’re grateful to our partners at the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Office for their outstanding work in bringing Eric Taylor to justice.”
The investigation began in the summer of 2018 after investigators received reports that a 16-year-old girl was working as a dancer at multiple sexually oriented businesses in Central Texas, including some licensed to sell alcohol by TABC. Further investigation revealed that she had been recruited over social media by a man, identified as Taylor, to strip in the various men’s clubs and engage in prostitution. Investigators also learned that Taylor provided the child with fraudulent ID documents to facilitate her employment at the clubs.
Investigators later found evidence showing Taylor, over several months, had recruited at least three minors and two 18-year-old women to come to San Antonio to live with him and work at multiple strip clubs in San Antonio, Houston, and Travis County. Agents from TABC’s Special Investigations Unit identified and charged several managers at clubs in these locations who hired the minors to work as dancers, resulting in one of the clubs — Blush Men’s Club of San Antonio — having its liquor license canceled by the agency in 2019.
Details of the operation were also shared with members of the Texas Legislature, who later went on to pass needed legislation prohibiting sexually oriented businesses from hiring anyone younger than 21 and requiring employers to use E-Verify and other tools to ensure all workers are of legal age.
“While this is undoubtedly a victory for public safety as well as all Texans, it does not mean our work is complete,” Lilly said. “Human trafficking has no place in Texas, and as long as criminal elements use TABC-licensed businesses to hide their illegal activity, our investigators will use any and all tools to identify and stop this heinous crime.”
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