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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

3 conspirators sentenced to a total of more than 40 years in prison for sex and drug trafficking

BALTIMORE - U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz today sentenced Jacob Tyler, 23 and Robert Harris, a/k/a "Little Rob," 21; both of Chillicothe, Ohio, each to 15 years in prison followed by 12 years of supervised release; and sentenced Richard Johnson, 23, also of Chillicothe, to 121 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release, for running a sex and drug trafficking business from an apartment in Millersville, Md. The defendants had pleaded guilty to prostitution and drug conspiracy, sex trafficking, enticement to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution and interstate transportation for prostitution.

The sentences were announced by U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); Chief James Teare, Sr. of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee; Brigadier General Colleen L. McGuire, the Provost Marshal General of the Army and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; and Chief Roger Moore of the Chillicothe, Ohio Police Department.

According to their plea agreements, from January to April 2009, Jacob Tyler, Robert Harris, Richard Johnson and Craig Corey conspired to operate a prostitution business from an apartment in Millersville. Harris, Johnson, Tyler, Corey and others transported, and enticed to travel, at least 12 individuals from these states including Ohio, New York and Virginia to Maryland.

Once in Maryland, the individuals were photographed both unclothed and partially clothed, and were given an alias. The photos and the aliases were used in Craigslist ads offering the individuals for sex acts and which were posted from Corey's laptop. Corey maintained a Washington, D.C., phone number listed in the Craigslist ads for sex customers to call. Harris also provided his cellular telephone number in several ads for this purpose. The co-conspirators also used MySpace, YouTube and other web-based social networking services to recruit females to serve as prostitutes and to promote their prostitution and drug business. Harris, Tyler, Johnson and Corey assisted their co-conspirators in obtaining prepaid debit cards to pay for ads posted on Craigslist for sexual services, and used fake names and identifiers for said cards in order to conceal their unlawful activities.

When Tyler and Harris traveled to Maryland from Ohio, they also brought illegally obtained guns and ammunition. On three occasions between approximately January and April 2009, Tyler brandished a gun when disputes over payment arose with different sex customers. Tyler and Corey also discussed shooting one of the female sex workers, though no one was shot. Harris and Johnson handled these firearms during the conspiracy, even discharging a weapon in the apartment.

Beyond employing firearms, the conspirators threatened and engaged in physical violence against female sex workers. Tyler and Harris beat female sex workers when they refused to continue to provide their prostitution earnings.

Also according to their plea agreements, from at least January 2009 through September 2009, Tyler, Harris, Johnson, Corey and their co-conspirators also distributed illegal narcotics to associates, prostitutes, sex and drug customers and others, both inside and outside of Maryland. Tyler, Harris and Johnson went with Corey to Detroit, Mich., to purchase Ecstasy and/or BZP pills from a dealer Corey had met through a fellow soldier at Fort Meade. These drugs were later consumed and distributed in Ohio and Maryland.

Johnson also came to Maryland to use the Millersville apartment to establish a drug business in Baltimore. Upon his release from Maryland state custody in August 2009, Johnson returned to Ohio and continued to negotiate drug sales with Corey. Until his federal arrest in September 2009, Johnson contacted a number of potential witnesses to provide warnings that law enforcement was still investigating. Similarly, after Harris's federal incarceration in September 2009, Harris contacted and attempted to contact numerous potential witnesses, to influence the witnesses to change their statements. After he was incarcerated, Corey also attempted to contact a minor victim, in an attempt to change the victim's statement.

Craig Allen Corey II, 23, of Chillicothe, Ohio, pleaded guilty on April 1, 2010, to his participation in the sex and drug trafficking operations and was sentenced on April 28, 2010, to 210 months in prison followed by supervised release for life.

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 thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Solette Magnelli, who prosecuted the case.