Gallup police arrest human trafficking suspect - Albuquerque Journal

Gallup police arrest human trafficking suspect

Fred Lewis, 59. (MDC)
Gallup police arrested a man Friday who is accused of sexually exploiting an immigrant out of an Albuquerque hotel room in 2015 and 2016.

Authorities say Fred Lewis, 59, allowed an immigrant woman to live with him in hotel rooms before beating her, threatening her life and forcing her to have sex with himself and others in exchange for drugs.

A warrant was issued for Lewis in January and officers found him at a home in Gallup on Friday afternoon.

Lewis is booked at the Metropolitan Detention Center on charges of human trafficking, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and assault with intent to commit a violent felony.

According to a criminal complaint filed in District Court, the New Mexico Attorney General began investigating in Sept. 2017 after the woman came forward and told agents she immigrated in early 2015 and ended up at a homeless shelter in Albuquerque, where she met Lewis.

Agents say the two moved into the Downtown Inn, near Central and 12th NW.

“Lewis initially treated her well and allowed her to come and go as she pleased,” an agent wrote. “After about two months — Lewis became more controlling and physically abusive.”

The woman told agents Lewis forced her to have sex with him twice a week in exchange for being able to live with him.

Agents say Lewis began using drugs with a man named “Patricio Sanchez” and the two men were prostituting several women while living at the hotel.

The woman told agents Lewis also ordered her to have sex with “Sanchez,” and other men, in exchange for “free drugs.”

During this time, agents say Lewis threatened to kick the woman “into the cold,” strangled her and beat her if she tried to resist.

Agents say the woman called Albuquerque police in Oct. 2016 after she refused to have sex with “Sanchez” and Lewis beat her before grabbing a knife and threatening to kill her.

Albuquerque police arrested Lewis on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon but the case against him was later dropped for “insufficient evidence.”

The woman’s friend, Sergio Romero, told agents he allowed her to hide in his room at the Express Inn several times and even called 911 after a man came looking for her with a gun, banged on the door, and threatened to shoot Romero and the woman.

Agents say Romero recalled witnessing at least three prostitutes in and out of Lewis’ room frequently and he knew the women “were prostitutes because of their dress attire.”

The criminal complaint does not elaborate on the other women or any other allegations of prostitution against Lewis.

“The OAG will present all relevant information to a grand jury at a later date,” a spokesman for the Office of the Attorney General said Wednesday. “We cannot comment beyond the public document at this time.”

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