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Jan 26, 2023

Convicted human trafficker receives 35-year sentence following TABC, Bexar County investigation

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. 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.” For more information about TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Jan 31, 2023

Delinquent List publication delayed

Because parts of Texas are experiencing severe winter weather, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will be delaying the publication of Credit Delinquent List 1862, which was initially scheduled to be published on Feb. 1, 2023. Delinquent List 1862 will now be published on Feb. 3, 2023. Delinquent List 1862 Delivery period: Jan. 1–15, 2023 Payment date: Jan. 25, 2023 Reporting date: Jan. 27, 2023 Publication and effective date: Feb. 3, 2023 Businesses that use the delinquent list can view the full schedule on the Delinquent List page.

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Jan 31, 2023

Statement from TABC on guilty plea from Maria Botello-Morales for sex trafficking charges

BACKGROUND: A 56-year-old Houston woman faces life in prison after she pleaded guilty to multiple sex trafficking charges resulting from a joint investigation by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and members of the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance (HTRA). U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani announced the guilty plea on Jan. 30, adding that Maria Botello-Morales admitted to recruiting a minor-aged Mexican citizen to work in a bar she owned and to forcing the girl and multiple other victims into sex work on the threat of violence. TABC canceled the liquor permit for the bar, Puerto Alegre, in 2020 following the initial investigation. Botello-Morales remains in custody awaiting sentencing. She faces up to life in prison. The joint investigation was conducted by TABC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with assistance from the Houston Police Department as part of HTRA. TABC’s investigation remains ongoing. Statement from TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly: “This case demonstrates the lengths traffickers will go to in order to recruit and abuse victims, even when those victims are barely more than children. All of us at TABC are incredibly proud of the work of our agents and partners with the Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance, and we remain committed to finding and stopping human trafficking no matter where it’s found in Texas.” U.S. Attorney’s Office news release: justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/woman-guilty-trafficking-women-cantina-backroom For more about TABC, visit tabc.texas.gov. Trafficking victims are asked to contact TABC’s Victim Services Coordinator at VictimServices@tabc.texas.gov or 713-494-5869. Media contact: Chris Porter TABC Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462 media@tabc.texas.gov

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Jan 30, 2023

TABC offices temporarily switch to virtual assistance due to winter weather

The following TABC offices will be closed to in-person appointments this week due to the threat of severe winter weather. Staff at these offices will offer virtual assistance instead.

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Jan 17, 2023

Businesses urged to order tax ID stamps ahead of February transition

Local Distributor Permit holders in need of tax ID stamps should order two months’ worth of stamps before Jan. 30, 2023. Order now.

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