By Glenn Puit
Two men are facing sex trafficking charges after authorities said they brought a woman from Arizona to Las Vegas to perform acts of prostitution, then beat and robbed her when she failed to produce any income for them.
A Las Vegas arrest report indicates Rene Palacios, 29, and Semaj Cato, 37, both of Las Vegas, each are facing felony charges of sex trafficking, kidnapping and robbery. A woman identified in an arrest report as Cato’s girlfriend also was arrested in the case, but Las Vegas Justice Court records indicate prosecutors have decided to dismiss charges against her.
A Las Vegas police arrest report for Palacios and Cato indicates the victim met two men while partying at “The Channel” in Lake Havasu, Arizona, in March. The victim told the men she was in need of work and a man whom police later identified as Cato told her she could make money in Las Vegas.
Police said the victim, Palacios and Cato drove to Las Vegas and Cato’s girlfriend showed the victim how to post ads soliciting acts of prostitution on multiple websites.
“Over the next two days (the victim) received multiple responses to the ads she posted and attempted to set up dates with the men who responded,” police wrote in the arrest report.
However, when the woman went to meet the men for the purposes of prostitution, she was “unable to finalize a deal or have sex with the men due to her inexperience working as a prostitute.”
Police said the victim was eventually beaten and robbed of her money and cellphone and that the two men she was with also demanded $1,000 from the victim’s father for her safe return. Las Vegas police arrested Cato and Palacios at an apartment complex in the 300 block of East Harmon Avenue in late March. Police wrote in the report that they recovered the victim’s property from a vehicle. Both men denied any wrongdoing.
Cato, according to police, told investigators “he wasn’t a pimp and didn’t rob anybody, but if he wanted to rob someone he could.”
A preliminary hearing for both men is scheduled April 16 in Las Vegas Justice Court.