A Houston trafficking victim wants her trafficker to pay up.

In a motion filed Dec. 15, the victim requested restitution from Hortencia “Tencha” Medels Arguello, who allegedly forced the victim and others to work without pay in Houston-area brothels, according to an article in the Houston Chronicle. A judge is expected to sentence Arguello in January.

It’s highly unlikely the victim will be successful. A 2014 review of sex and labor trafficking cases found victims seldom received restitution from their traffickers, despite federal law requiring convicted traffickers to pay victims lost wages.

According the review, courts granted the victims compensation in only 36 percent of cases. Sex trafficking victims were least likely to receive money, and when they did, received far less than labor trafficking victims.

Researchers also found prosecutors played an important role. Courts were much more likely to grant restitution when prosecutors filed memos requesting it. When prosecutors did not get involved, victims were granted compensation in only 12 percent of cases.

In the Houston case, an attorney representing the victim filed the motion. The victim requested $500,000 in unpaid wages, lost wages and attorney fees. She was 15 years old when she met a man in Mexico who courted her and convinced her to come to the United States. When she arrived, she said, the man’s behavior changed. He told her he owed the smugglers money and that she had to work to pay off the debt. She began working in the brothels at 16 years old.

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Shoshana Walter was a senior reporter and producer at Reveal, covering the criminal justice and child welfare systems. She's working on a book for Simon & Schuster about the failures of our country's addiction treatment system. At Reveal, she reported on exploitative drug rehab programs that require participants to work without pay, armed security guards, and sex abuse and trafficking in the marijuana industry. Her reporting has prompted new laws, numerous class-action lawsuits and government investigations. Her stories have been named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Selden Ring and National Magazine Awards. She has also been honored with the Livingston Award for National Reporting, the IRE medal, the Edward R. Murrow award, the Knight Award for Public Service, a Loeb Award and Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting. Her Reveal podcast, "American Rehab," was named one of the best podcasts of the year by The New Yorker and The Atlantic and prompted a congressional investigation.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is a fellow with the Watchdog Writers Group at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and is based in Oakland, California.