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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Third Ohio man pleads guilty to sex and drug trafficking

Used Craigslist, MySpace, YouTube and other social networking sites to recruit prostitutes and sell sexual services

BALTIMORE - Jacob Tyler, 23, of Chillicothe, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to charges related to running a sex and drug trafficking business from an apartment in Millersville, Md.

The guilty plea was announced by U. S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of the 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 of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; and Chief Roger Moore of the Chillicothe, Ohio Police Department.

"Forcing women into prostitution for the purpose of turning a profit is not only criminal, it is intolerable," said Winter. "ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate human trafficking, as well as working with our local non-governmental, community-based and faith-based organizations to identify, rescue and assist victims of trafficking."

According to Tyler's plea, from January to April 2009, he participated in a conspiracy to conduct a prostitution business from an apartment in Millersville. Tyler and his co-conspirators transported, and enticed to travel, at least 12 individuals from at least two different states to Maryland. Once in Maryland, the individuals were photographed unclothed as well as partially clothed and were given an alias. The photos and the alias were used in the Craigslist ads that offered the individuals for sex acts. A Washington, D.C., phone number belonging to one of the co-conspirators was given in the ads for sex customers to call and make a date with the girls. Tyler, co-conspirators Robert Harris and Richard Johnson and others shared in the prostitution earnings of the girls who worked for them. Tyler spent his earnings on illegal narcotics, jewelry and clothes.

Tyler, Harris, Johnson and their co-conspirators used Craigslist, MySpace, YouTube and other web-based social networking and classified advertising services, as well as cellular telephones, to recruit females to serve as prostitutes, to promote their prostitution business, and to advertise sexual services. Tyler assisted his co-conspirators in obtaining prepaid debit cards to pay for ads posted on Craigslist for sexual services, in order to conceal their unlawful activities.

When Tyler traveled to Maryland from Ohio, he also brought an illegally obtained .380 Bersa and ammunition; all the occupants of the apartment knew that Tyler possessed the firearm. On three occasions between approximately January and April 2009, Tyler brandished a firearm in furtherance of the sex trafficking when disputes over payment arose with different customers. Tyler also discussed shooting one of the female sex workers with a co-conspirator, but no one was shot.

Beyond the threat and presence of firearms, the conspirators used threats and actual physical violence against female sex workers. On one occasion, Tyler beat a female sex worker when she refused to continue to provide Tyler with her prostitution earnings. As a result of the beating, the sex worker continued to provide Tyler with her earnings.

Also according to their plea agreements, from at least January 2009 through September 2009, Tyler, Harris, Johnson and their co-conspirators distributed illegal narcotics to associates, prostitutes, sex and drug customers and others, both inside and outside of Maryland. On at least one occasion, Tyler went to Detroit, Mich., with a co-conspirator to purchase illegal narcotics. While in Detroit, Tyler and the co-conspirator purchased and split approximately 200 to 300 Ecstasy and/or BZP pills, which they later consumed and distributed in Ohio and Maryland.

Tyler faces a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison for sex trafficking; a maximum of 20 years in prison for enticement and for the drug conspiracy; a maximum of 10 years in prison for interstate transportation for prostitution; and a maximum of five years in prison for the prostitution conspiracy. U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz has scheduled his sentencing for April 30, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.

Robert Harris, a/k/a "Little Rob," 21, and Richard Johnson, 22, both of Chillicothe, Ohio, pleaded guilty to similar charges and are awaiting sentencing.

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 is prosecuting the case.