Last of 9 defendants pleads guilty to North Texas gang child sex trafficking conspiracy
FORT WORTH, Texas — The last of nine defendants pleaded guilty in federal court this week to a child sex trafficking conspiracy after jury selection began.
This guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas. This case was investigated by the following agencies: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Fort Worth Police Department.
Diwone Nobles, aka “Pooh,” 32, who acted as a pimp, faces a minimum statutory penalty of 10 years and a maximum statutory penalty of life in federal prison, lifetime sex offender registration, lifetime supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is set for March 20.
A total of nine defendants were charged in this case, all of whom are members of the Polywood Crips gang in Fort Worth. Five defendants were charged in the indictment with Nobles: Chad Johnson, aka “Ocho Hood Fame,” 24, Audry Lane, aka “Spud,” 29, Deon Bonner, aka “Spanish Fly,” 26, Stanley Johnson, aka “Pee Wee,” 24, and Katelyn Michelle Ward, aka “KD,” 24. Audry Lane, Bonner and Stanley Johnson each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit child sex trafficking. Chad Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking children; Ward pleaded guilty to using a facility of interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise.
Last month, three others involved in the conspiracy pleaded guilty: Alvin Lane, aka “Spank,” 34, Serrah Arnold, 28, and Jessica Arnold, 23; they were charged in a felony Information. Alvin Lane pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children; Serrah and Jessica Arnold each pleaded guilty to one count of using a facility of interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise.
In November 2015, HSI learned that a 16-year-old runaway, Jane Doe 1, was being trafficked by a group of people in Fort Worth; that group included the defendants. The investigation revealed that from about Oct. 1, 2013, through April 16, 2016, the members of this group facilitated the commercial sex acts of numerous minor and adult females.
Nobles, Bonner, Chad Johnson, Stanley Johnson, Audry Lane, Katelyn Ward and Alvin Lane acted as pimps for the girls and women they trafficked. They instructed them how much to charge and they kept the proceeds from the transactions. They also provided the girls and women with condoms, cellphones and hotel rooms. Some members of the group bought and sold the girls and women they were trafficking amongst themselves.
To locate commercial sex customers, Nobles, Bonner, Chad Johnson, Stanley Johnson, Katelyn Ward, Audry Lane and Alvin Lane facilitated placing ads on various commercial websites, including Backpage.com. In many instances, rather than placing the Backpage.com ad themselves, sisters Serrah and Jessica Arnold, who acted as “bottom girls,” were told to post the ads using Backpage.com accounts belonging to the Arnolds.
About June 1, 2013, 17-year-old Jane Doe 4 was introduced to Audry Lane, Serrah and Jessica Arnold, and Alvin Lane by a family friend of the Arnolds, defendant Katelyn Ward. Ward asked the Lanes and Arnolds to teach Jane Doe 4 how to engage in commercial sex acts. Serrah and Jessica Arnold explained to Jane Doe 4 about Backpage.com and how to talk to commercial sex customers. Ward, along with Audry Lane, and later Alvin Lane, acted as Jane Doe 4’s pimp at various times between 2013 and 2015. All three pimps knew she was 17 when they began facilitating her commercial sex acts, and they kept the proceeds she earned. Various members of the group posted Jane Doe 4 on Backpage.com and facilitated her commercial sex acts.
About Oct. 10, 2015, friends Deon Bonner and Stanley Johnson met 17-year-old Jane Doe 2 and her 16-year-old friend Jane Doe 1 in Fort Worth. They took the girls to a motel on Meacham Street in Fort Worth. Shortly thereafter, Stanley Johnson told Jane Doe 2 that he wanted her to engage in commercial sex acts, and he sought help from Audry Lane and Alvin Lane to post commercial sex ads for her on Backpage.com. Stanley Johnson told Jane Doe 2 how much to charge and he bought condoms for her; he also kept the money she made from engaging in commercial sex acts.
While Stanley Johnson was causing Jane Doe 2 to engage in commercial sex acts at a Fort Worth motel, Bonner was causing Jane Doe 1 to engage in commercial sex acts in another nearby room. After several days, Bonner left the hotel, and then Chad Johnson caused Jane Doe 1 to engage in commercial sex acts. Next, Nobles began causing Jane Doe 1 to engage in commercial sex acts. Stanley Johnson and Nobles eventually took both Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 to another hotel in Fort Worth where Stanley Johnson continued to cause Jane Doe 2 to engage in commercial sex acts.
According to documents filed in the case, one adult female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at the direction of Nobles, Chad Johnson, Audry Lane, Alvin Lane, and Serrah Arnold during 2014. Nobles frequently assaulted her when she made him angry or did not follow his instructions; he also raped her. Nobles kept the money she earned, and the contact phone number used in the Backpage.com ad for her services was used by Nobles. In one trip to Austin, Texas, this adult female victim made enough money for Nobles to buy a Chevy sedan that he painted bright orange – “Poly Orange” in reference to their neighborhood Polytechnic Heights – that he still owns.
When an adult female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at Chad Johnson’s direction, he physically assaulted her if she did not follow his instructions. On one occasion, Chad Johnson punched her in the ear hard enough to cause her eardrum to burst and bleed. Chad Johnson also raped her, and when he believed she had attempted to “renegade,” he had several friends gang rape her as punishment. “Renegade” is a term used to describe attempting to engage in commercial sex acts for money outside the knowledge or control of a pimp.
When an adult female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at Audry Lane’s direction, he had Serrah Arnold, his “bottom girl,” supervise the victim and take the money she received.
A minor female victim engaged in commercial sex acts at the direction of Audry Lane, Alvin Lane, Serrah Arnold and Jessica Arnold. Alvin Lane had his girlfriend/bottom girl, Jessica Arnold post photos of her in ads that she placed on Backpage.com. The minor female victim gave all the money she earned to Jessica or Serrah Arnold, who then gave the money to Audry Lane or Alvin Lane.
Some of the pimps’ Facebook pages contained online posts, visible to the public, that reference making a lot of money through criminal activity, namely “pimping.” Chad Johnson’s Facebook page contained photos of him posing with large sums of cash while referencing commercial sex. Several of Chad Johnson’s Facebook friends were females observed in Backpage.com ads for commercial sex. Likewise, Diwone Nobles posted numerous videos and photos on Facebook instructing others on how to pimp, and showing him counting money with various sex trafficking victims.
Nobles, Bonner, Chad Johnson, Stanley Johnson, and Audry Lane had several photos on their Facebook pages in which they can be observed flashing gang signs referencing the “Polywood Crips” street gang.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Foos Pierce, Northern District of Texas, is in charge of the prosecution.