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Human Smuggling/Trafficking
07/16/2009

Maryland man pleads guilty in sex trafficking conspiracy involving 3 minor girls

Maryland task force to show "Zero Tolerance for Child Prostitution"

BALTIMORE - Byron Thompson, a/k/a "B," 25, of Reisterstown, Md., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and three counts of sex trafficking of a minor, announced U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

"Maryland's human trafficking task force is committed to a policy of zero tolerance for child prostitution," said Rosenstein. "Anyone who pays for or profits from sex with children should be on notice that law enforcement agents and prosecutors are standing by to send them to federal prison."

"Traffickers who prey on the emotional and physical vulnerability of young girls will be held accountable for their actions," said Scot R. Rittenberg, acting special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Investigations in Baltimore. "As a member of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, ICE will continue to aggressively investigate human trafficking and protect our communities from the threats and vulnerabilities posed by these criminal organizations."

According to his guilty plea, from January through April 2009, Thompson was a pimp who recruited minors to engage in commercial sex acts. Specifically, Thompson obtained "Jane Doe 1" and "Jane Doe 2", each 15 years old, and "Jane Doe 3", 17 years old, for commercial sex acts, knowing that they were not 18 years old. Beginning in January and continuing into February 2009, Thompson and a co-conspirator prostituted Jane Doe 3. Thompson and the co-conspirator provided and advertised Jane Doe 3 dozens of times during this period for sexual services in Maryland in exchange for a fee, all of which they kept. Thompson and others transported Jane Doe 3 to hotels, private residences, and required Jane Doe 3 to 'walk' truck stops and Baltimore streets known for prostitution. In that time, Thompson directed dozens of customers to Jane Doe 3.

According to the statement of facts, on March 5, 2009, Thompson obtained Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3 for the purpose of advertising them and providing them for commercial sex acts. Thompson and his co-conspirator provided transportation, clothing, condoms, marijuana, shelter, hotel rooms, food and a cellular phone to the minors. Thompson and his co-conspirator instructed the minors on the methods and pricing of prostitution and directed at least two sex customers to each minor at a Maryland hotel, where the minors engaged in sex acts in exchange for money paid to Thompson and the co-conspirator. The sex customers had responded to erotic ads from the internet that Thompson had posted. Thompson and the co-conspirator kept all of the money paid by the sex customers.

In the early morning hours of March 6, 2009, Thompson and his co-conspirator drove the minors to a Maryland truck stop and directed them to walk the area for additional sex customers. The minors were almost immediately retrieved by law enforcement, but Thompson continued to attempt to contact Jane Doe 3 through April 2009.

On April 20, 2009, Thompson created a Craigslist posting advertising sexual services and containing a photograph of Jane Doe 3. On May 17, 2009, Thompson created a Backpage posting advertising a "2-girl special" and containing photographs of Jane Doe 3 and a photograph of Jane Doe 1. Thompson was subsequently located and arrested.

Thompson faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for sex trafficking, although the parties have agreed that 10 years in prison is the appropriate disposition of this case. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Oct. 1, 2009 at 4:00 p.m.

The case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Human-Trafficking/index.html.

U. S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised ICE and the Baltimore County Police Department for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Solette A. Magnelli and Judson Mihok, who are prosecuting the case.