TABC Cancels Liquor Permit of Harris County Business Accused of Prostitution
AUSTIN – A long-term investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA) has cost a Houston-area business its liquor license after it was found to have promoted prostitution on its premises.
Smiles Sports Bar, 4348 Telephone Road in Houston, may no longer sell or serve alcohol in the wake of administrative violations for Place or Manner – Prostitution. The business’ owners agreed to turn over their liquor license Jan. 26.
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Sec. 11.61 requires the Commission to cancel a business’ liquor license or permit if it’s found that “the place or manner in which the permittee conducts the permittee’s business warrants the cancellation or suspension of the permit based on the general welfare, health, peace, morals, and safety of the people.”
TABC’s Special Investigations Unit opened the case in June 2021 after it was alleged that the business had promoted prostitution as well as engaged in suspected human trafficking. The investigation found evidence of prostitution as well as drink solicitation, which is the practice of overcharging customers for drinks in exchange for allowing them to spend time with certain servers – typically, young women known as ficheras.
Assisting in the investigation were members of the HTRA, including officers from the Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“There is absolutely no place in the Texas alcoholic beverage industry for this type of behavior,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “Research shows that prostitution is often a warning sign for other serious organized criminal activity including human trafficking. TABC will continue to play a lead role in shutting down any and all TABC-licensed businesses being used as a source of revenue for organized crime.”
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