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May 31, 2017Santa Ana, CA, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Pimp pleads guilty to federal sex trafficking charge involving young woman forced to work as prostitute in Los Angeles area

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A local pimp who recruited a woman through a social media website and advertised her services as a prostitute in an online publication has pleaded guilty to a federal sex trafficking charge.

Lawrence T. Gunn Jr., 33, whose last known residence was in Woodland Hills, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. The case was investigated by the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes representatives from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The Moreno Valley Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sherriff’s Office, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department assisted in the investigation

Gunn pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for Oct. 2. As a result of Tuesday’s guilty plea, Gunn faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, and he could be sentenced to as much as life in federal prison.

Gunn, who is also known as “Classified,” forced the victim to get a tattoo of his moniker on her face after he recruited her on Facebook, according to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court.

Gunn admitted that he used force, threats of force, fraud and/or coercion that led the victim to engage in commercial sex acts between May 2015 and late February 2016.

Gunn took all of the money the victim collected from customers, according to the plea agreement. Gunn physically struck the woman if she attempted to keep any of the money or if she tried to leave, breaking her nose on one occasion. Gunn also admitted in his plea agreement that he threatened to kill the victim if she tried to leave him.

Once he completes his prison term, Gunn will be required to register as a sex offender.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Abigail Evans of the Riverside Branch Office.