May 28, 2017

Archives for January 2012

Racism – Discrimination and Fraud in Construction – “Mexican Cliques in Construction”

Ricardo Charles on Construction Site

Mexican Cliques in Construction, a book by thirty-year Hispanic carpenter Ricardo Charles, details a story of racism, fraud, discrimination and organized crime that is apparently running rampant in the construction industry of Texas. Mr. Charles’ story first came to my attention in a report fromHouston’s Fox 26 where I learned briefly about his allegations of corruption.

Reporter Greg Groogan asked Charles if black construction workers were welcome on construction sites in Texas. Charles said, “Oh no, blacks, they are out of the question. Blacks are out of the question. Nobody wants a black person in there.” Charles, a US Army Veteran, was speaking about what the “cliques” would say about blacks in the workforce. He said the same thing applies to whites.

Fox 26 News Story:

I next heard more in-depth information on this story on KTRH’s Michael Berry Show and became intrigued by how rampant and destructive the construction, as being alleged by Charles, appeared to be. Charles discussed bribery, kickbacks and outright fraud being perpetrated by these “cliques” and the complicity of contracting companies and construction companies.

As part of my continuing series on employee misclassification, I decided to meet with Mr. Charles and find out what his story is really all about.  What I found was a very credible man who is deeply concerned about an industry he loves, construction, and what is being done to destroy that industry in the name of greed and racism.

Ricardo Charles

I asked Mr. Charles how this situation developed. He told me, “Corruption has been going on inside the plants for many years, but today’s workforce comes with a culture of bribes. The Mexican culture of bribery makes it hard for ordinary citizens to be part of the workforce. However, these cliques help the employers by controlling the job sites by driving out ‘unwanted’ new workers. Anybody who disagrees with an unlawful act gets terminated.

The traditional way of hiring through human resources has changed. Corrupt supervisors and managers inside do the hiring and firing giving preference to relatives and friends who, on occasion, pay to obtain the job. The employee of choice is the one who can be manipulated and does not report criminal acts. Eventually these type of workers join the existing group adding more crime into the system.” Charles continued.

Over the next several weeks I will bring you a series of video interviews with Mr. Charles.  We will talk about several key aspects of this story and dive deep into details. These details will include names where possible of the companies and individuals participating in these schemes.

We will delve deep into this topic and talk about why this is happening and who is not doing anything to stop it.  We will also bring more interviews from other people who are experiencing these conditions and situations.

Mr. Charles spent several thousand dollars of his own money to publish his book. Consider helping this whistleblower continue his work by purchasing a copy so you can completely understand what is happening here.  The book is available in both English and Spanish.  You can click the link below to purchase a copy of this book.

 “Mexican Cliques in Construction”

Houston Texas and Sex Slavery – Human Trafficking. What do they have in common?

Just before last year’s Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas, I posted an article relating to human trafficking, sex slavery and how those things connected to the Super Bowl. The Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott, had weighed in on the topic calling the Super Bowl “a magnet for child sex traffickers”. The story also discussed what was being done in Houston and Harris County which has become widely known as the Sex Slave Capital of the United States.

As we approach this year’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the topic and see what has occurred in the past year. The first thing on this list?  New laws passed by the Texas Legislature.

In this most recent legislative session, Texas put more teeth into the state’s statutes regarding human trafficking. The penalty for a first offense (now a 1st degree felony) is now a minimum 25 years in prison.  An additional bill was passed and signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry which makes it harder for human traffickers to make bond and imposes much tougher parole restrictions.

Atty Gen Greg Abbott

General Abbott, present for the bill signing, said, “Human traffickers use force, fraud and coercion to compel their victims into modern-day slavery.”  Abbott continued, “By increasing penalties for traffickers and continuing to foster cooperation among law enforcement, these measures will help ensure Texas remains hostile territory for human traffickers.”

But what about Houston?  What is going on in Harris County, Texas to break down these circumstances where women are forced into prostitution as either indentured servants or kidnap victims? Yesterday, I rode with Constable Ron Hickman, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable, as his deputies conducted a raid on a massage parlor in North Harris County.

Constable Ron Hickman enters Diamond Spa during licensing raid.

Hickman told me, “In many cases, these girls are in this country legally. Someone has helped them obtain legal visas and other documents to legally be in this county.” Hickman continued, “In many cases we find out these women are paying off debts incurred by their process of coming to the US, or they are forced into slavery by duress of either threats against them or their families back home.

Does this look like a massage table? What goes on in this room?

Hickman’s deputies don’t go after these places on prostitution laws which are complicated and in many cases hard charges to make stick. Instead, they are employing a new tactic being utilized by other departments around the country. They are enforcing massage services licensing statutes.

Captain Skip Oliver said, “These are much simpler cases to make. First we prove they are offering massage services. Then, they either have a license or they don’t.” What I learned was that in most cases, neither the establishment, nor the girls are licensed. This makes for easily provable cases which can be prosecuted.

The ultimate goal is to build enough cases to enable the County Attorney’s Office to come in and close the business as a public nuisance.

Yesterday’s raid focused on a place called the “Diamond Spa” in the 16,000 block of Kuykendahl in North Harris County.  It could just have easily been any number of other such “spas”.  But regardless of whether they call themselves a “spa” or “massage parlor” or a barber shop, if they offer massage services (or any of a large number of other regulated services), this law enforcement technique is proving to be effective.

High security for a "spa"?

Upon entry, the first thing I noticed was a very extensive security system. Very unusual for something proclaiming to be a health spa. Secondly, I notice no documentation anywhere of the required documentation. On this day, two women and one man were taken into custody. The “manager” will be most likely charged with a Class A misdemeanor of operating a spa without a license. The “therapist” will most likely be charged with providing massage services without a license (Class C). The “therapist” also appeared to have expired ICE paperwork so she could have other problems as well.

Precinct 4 Asst. Chief Deputy, Tim Cannon, told me, “It is pretty rare to find illegal aliens in these raids.  Most of the girls are legally here.”  I asked him how often they find women who admit they are “trafficking victims”.  He replied, “It doesn’t happen very often. Every once in a while one will throw her hands up and claim to be a victim of trafficking.

Another victims of human trafficking?

I asked Cannon why this is when declaring to be a human trafficking victim is almost certain grounds for obtaining a “T” immigration visa.  Cannon said, “Most of the time these girls are under duress. Either their families back home, or someone they know here are being threatened if the girl talks or admits her situation. So, despite the big carrot of the “T” visa, most will not come forward. This makes it very difficult to build cases for human trafficking.”

What I saw today was angering and sad at the same time.  As you have seen in the pictures I took, these girls are living in deplorable conditions. The bed, pictured below, sleeps as many as four to six girls in one night.

On any given night, this bed sleeps four to six young girls

I was told these spa’s bring in about $1,500 per shift, per girl.  Many spas operate 24 hours per day.  Now this isn’t the only money involved. This is just the door fees paid to the “house” when the client enters. After that is the fees paid to the girl which might run anywhere from $40 to $200 per session depending on the services requested. The door fees alone can total up to a half million dollars a month from just one spa. Many own up to as many as four or five.

Notepad of other girls around the country

These raids often bring rewards of much more value than just the arrests. In today’s raid Cpl. Ernest Gonzalez showed me a notebook full of phone numbers that could lead to other trafficking victims and the suppliers of these women. “This is the key to the vault, ” Gonzales said. “Information like this supplies the building blocks for making much bigger cases.

I learned the County Attorney’s office is having difficulty because these spas all use one single attorney to represent their cases. He keeps up with the latest techniques used by law enforcement and is ready with either a defense or a stalling tactic. The stall tactic allows the “owners” to reorganize making prosecution even more difficult.

Shower Table? What goes on here?

By looking at the setup in the rooms, it is clear what is going on here. One room had only a bed, no massage table.  Another had a massage table and a couch.  Each room had a shower and one “shower room” had a vinyl covered bed for who knows what kind of action.

This spa was equipped with a well-stocked kitchen, an exceedingly large number of tissue paper boxes and a laundry which was being repaired when we arrived because of overuse of the machines for washing towels and sheets.

A lifetime supply of tissues?

Fully stocked refrigerator?

Full Kitchen for on premises living...

This place seemed clean, but Constable Hickman assured me in most cases that is not what they find.  “Because of all the cooking and living conditions, these places usually have a very distinct odor.”

PHX to IAH - Where next?

At the end of the day, life in the spa business goes on and these trafficked girls continue to be shipped across the country.  I saw one of the luggage bags with a recent tag showing its owner had flown in from Phoenix. This is their life. One sad place of existence after another.

Constable Hickman and his team are to be commended. Over the past several years, they have made hundreds of arrests. His department’s website details the activities in these spas and their efforts to shut them down.  Many of these sites have been shut down.  Some pop back up just as quickly under a new name with new ownership. This a cash cow business. But for these victims of human trafficking, it is a hell-on-earth experience.

Massage table and shower...

One thing that impressed me about Hickman and these operations is the efficiency upon which these are conducted. Hickman told me, “I do all the work on these Massage Parlors, Game Rooms and Curbstoning (unlicensed flipping of used car titles) with just two employees! I cut out bureaucracy and overhead in our department and manage to provide these services while cutting costs.” In these times of tight budgets, this fits well with conservative principles of reducing the size and cost of government.

Hickman would like to encourage our readers to get involved in helping stop these human trafficking and sex crimes spots. If you would like to report illicit or suspicious massage parlors, please follow this link to his department’s website and make a report.

I will continue to follow this topic and report what I find as it comes up. This is but one example of human trafficking. But it is not just sex slavery. It includes the construction industry, restaurant business and many others. If you know of any related information on this topic, please contact us directly to investigate.  Please come back here for more information as we uncover the dark truth that stains Texas and this beautiful city.

Broken lives and broken hearts.

A Message from Lt. Governor David Dewhurst on the President’s State of the Union Address

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst sent the following message about tonight’s State of the Union address.  This is posted for informational purposes and does not imply support of, nor endorsement of any political candidate.

David Dewhurst Issues Statement on Upcoming State of the Union Address

David Dewhurst issued the following statement today prior to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address later this evening:

“What Americans will hear tonight from President Barack Obama are more empty words that have led to failed policies and broken promises and more class warfare rhetoric we have heard for the last three years. President Obama’s empty words have only led to failed policies and broken promises. It’s time for the President to stop making excuses, and instead outline specific pro-growth proposals to get our country back on track.

 

“The first steps towards fixing the problems in Washington are to repeal ObamaCare, dramatically cut spending and pass a balanced budget. Unbelievably, the Democrat-controlled Senate has allowed 1,000 days to pass without a federal budget. As a Washington outsider not beholden to any special interest groups, I will be a strong, independent voice for Texas in the Senate.  I know how to pass a balanced budget because I helped pass them in Texas, five consecutive times, without raising taxes. I will take my proven Texas knowledge and conservative principles to Washington to help get America back on track.

 

“It’s high time that President Obama and Congress begin addressing these critical problems facing our nation. I have released a detailed policy plan aimed at repealing the job-killing policies this Administration has pursued, and replacing them with sound, conservative pro-growth policies. Americans and Texans deserve better than what this Administration continues to offer. We will not continue to stand for the tax-and-spend ways of Washington, and I will fight every day to make sure we reduce spending, cut taxes, balance the budget and limit the role of the federal government.”

 

The first chapter of Dewhurst’s policy plan to repeal President Obama’s job-killing agenda and replace with a pro-growth agenda can be found below, or on our website here.
1. Repeal ObamaCare

  • The costs of ObamaCare are spiraling out of control, leaving our children and grandchildren to pay for it.
  • Repealing ObamaCare will save American taxpayers at least $540 billion over the next ten years.
  • The uncertainty of ObamaCare is keeping businesses on the sidelines and is directly responsible for companies not hiring.
  • ObamaCare is an example of one-size legislation that does not fit all, and does little to improve America’s healthcare system.
  • ObamaCare is another federal entitlement that we cannot afford.

Dewhurst Plan:  Free-Market Healthcare

  • Create a permissive free-market system.
  • Align incentives so doctors, hospitals and patients get more value for their healthcare dollars.
  • Expand the individual health insurance market.
  • Bring Texas reforms to Washington.
    Reform the legal system.
    Put forth sensible solutions that lower the number of malpractice lawsuits.
  • Equalize tax treatment.
    16-17% of the GDP is spent on healthcare and that number is only going to grow with the incoming wave of an older generation.

2. Stop The Obama EPA’s Job-Killing Agenda

  • Rein in President Obama’s out of control EPA.
  • Stop unnecessary job regulations that hurt Texas businesses.

Dewhurst Plan:  Overhaul The EPA

  • Use the power of the purse and Congress’ investigative powers to repeal EPA job-killing regulations opposed by Congress and most Americans.
  • Investigate current practices and regulations being implemented by the EPA.
  • Implement a tougher, more job-friendly analysis of current practices.
  • Make sure landowners and job-creators have a seat at the table when EPA is considering new regulations.
  • Cut down on administrative costs and overregulation.
  • Maintain clean air and water while still enforcing regulations that allow businesses to grow and prosper.

3.   Stop National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Over-reach

  • Prevent the NLRB from telling companies like Boeing which states to place manufacturing plants in.
  • Stop the NLRB from interfering with private sector business decisions – end the NRLB’s trampling on the Constitution.
  • More government overregulation, which is preventing jobs from being created.

Dewhurst Plan:  Less NLRB Meddling, More Job Creation

  • Insist on new leadership at the NLRB.
  • Conduct tough hearings on NLRB decision making under President Obama, and investigate interference with private business decision-making.
  • End federally mandated prevailing wage regulations, which will serve to bring down the cost of building infrastructure – roads, dams, ports, bridges, etc.
  • Accelerate the approval process for FAA upgrades.
    Allow private investors to invest in airports and air traffic control upgrades so that modernization and improvements can be made to match the needs of the 21st Century.

4. End the Wasteful Obama Green Energy Gravy Train

  • End taxpayer bailouts to companies like Solyndra, which declared bankruptcy after providing numerous warning signals to the White House before receiving $535 million in grants.
  • Stop President Obama’s “energy cronyism” of giving federal grants to donors.
  • Stop lobbyist and President Obama donors from feasting on taxpayer dollars for pet “Green” energy products, which don’t make good commercial sense and never make it to consumers.

Dewhurst Plan:  Develop America’s Massive Domestic Energy Resources

  • Fully develop and utilize America’s abundant energy resources.
  • Stop interfering with hydro-fracking of oil and gas wells, which is completely safe, and streamline oil and natural gas drilling regulations to allow more drilling.
  • Aggressively re-open Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas exploration with sensible safeguards in place.
  • Stop playing “political football” with energy projects like the Keystone pipeline.
  • To encourage more drilling for natural gas, open new markets for liquefied natural gas and encourage the building of ports and other facilities that can handle LNG exports.

Saddle-Up Texas Straw Poll – Ted Cruz Wins Senate Portion of Poll

Senate Candidate Ted Cruz

The Saddle Up Texas Straw Poll event turned out to be a very successful event for candidates to meet with some of the state’s top political activists from the grassroots of Texas. I will be writing a series of posts on this event to bring you some speeches and personal interviews I conducted with some of the speakers who were present.

Part of the event was, obviously, a straw poll. The poll consisted of two parts.A vote by the people present and a separate vote that was conducted by text messaging via an internet promotion. Emails were ablaze from candidates as the reached out to supporters to cast ballots on their behalf. The poll took votes on the Presidential Primary Candidates as well as the Texas US Senate and House races. Additionally votes were taken for State Senate and State House districts.

In the Presidential Poll, at no surprise to anyone, Rep. Ron Paul finished first with over 54% of the Text vote and 27% of the in person vote. In the Text vote, Rick Santorum finished second with 15.6%, followed by Rick Perry at 13.3% and Gingrich with 11.9%. The In-Person Vote showed Newt Gingrich at 23.8%, followed closely by Rick Santorum at 21.2%. Perry came in 4th with 19.4% of the vote.

American Veterans Honored at Saddle Up Texas Straw Poll

 

US Senate candidate, Ted Cruz delivered an impassioned speech to the attendees, as did several other Senate candidates. Cruz won both the Text vote and the In-person vote. He garnered 49.1% of the Text vote and 47.8% of the In-person vote. In the Text vote, Cruz was followed by the newest of the Senate candidates, Craig James at 12.9% and Glenn Addison at 12.0%. Lela Pittenger and former Dallas Mayor, Tom Leppert tied at 9.1% each.

The In-person results showed Glen Addison in 2nd with 19.9%, David Dewhurst at 10.3%, Craig James at 9.9% and Lela Pittenger at 7.2%.

After Cruz’ speech, he paused to talk with me in an exclusive interview. During the interview, I asked Cruz about the stories being circulated that he is tied, through his wife, to the CFR. Normally, I would not ask a question about a candidate’s spouse, but this story keeps hanging around. I felt it was important to get his answer to this on record.

Interview with US Senate Candidate Ted Cruz

Other parts of the interview include Cruz’ discussion about defending Texas against an over-reaching federal government and protecting US sovereignty from the World Court’s attack on Texas during the 2008 execution of rapist/murderer Jose Medellian. Please note, this interview does not constitute nor imply an endorsement for Mr. Cruz or any other candidate in this race.

Interestingly enough, while then Texas Solicitor General Cruz was in Washington DC defending Texas in this case, I was on the prison grounds in Huntsville doing one of my first news reports about this particular execution.

During the next several days, I will bring you more reports about the Saddle Up Texas Straw Poll. I have several other key interviews including one with former Presidential Candidate, Herman Cain.

I would like to extend a special thank you to the board of Saddle Up Texas for their hospitality and cooperation in making these reports possible.  Specifically to the people I worked with, Boar President Joe Pelati, Vice-President Felicia Cravens (Houston Tea Party Society) and Director Dale Huls (Clear Lake Tea Party).  Without their work and the dozens of volunteers who put in tireless hours, none of this would have been possible.