LAS CRUCES, N.M. – A Texas man pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to transporting a person for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents investigated the case.
Markell Quashan Sweargin, 19, of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested in June on a criminal complaint charging him with transporting a person in interstate commerce for the purpose of forcing the person to engage in a commercial sex act. The complaint alleged that on June 14, officers of the Hobbs (New Mexico) Police Department arrested Sweargin on state charges after responding to a domestic disturbance call from a woman, who claimed that Sweargin strangled and assaulted her during an altercation arising from her refusal to engage in a sexual act with another man for money.
According to the criminal complaint, Sweargin, the woman and another person traveled from Lubbock to a hotel in Hobbs, New Mexico. Once in the hotel room, Sweargin attempted to coerce the woman into having sex with other men for money and became angry when she refused.
When Sweargin and the other person left the hotel room, a man came to the room with the expectation of having sex with the woman. After the woman refused to have sex with him, the man departed the room after telling her that he had come in response to an advertisement on a webpage known to advertise prostitution services.
Once Sweargin returned to the hotel room, he was very angry because the woman did not have sex with the man in return for money. He hit her, and blocked the door to the hotel room to prevent her and the third person from leaving. The woman and a third person fled from the room when Sweargin stepped away from the door.
During Thursday’s proceedings, Sweargin pleaded guilty to a felony information charging him with transporting a person across state lines for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. In entering the guilty plea, Sweargin admitted that on June 14, he traveled from Lubbock to Hobbs with the woman with the intention of having her engage in prostitution in New Mexico.
At sentencing, Sweargin faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. Sweargin remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has not been set.
The Hobbs Police Department assisted with the investigation.