WASHINGTON – Acting Assistant Attorney General Loretta King and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri Catherine L. Hanaway today announced that defendant Waquita Wallace pleaded guilty to the federal civil rights charge of sex trafficking. Wallace admitted to forcing a young woman to engage in commercial sex acts through a combination of force, fraud and coercion. Defendant Wallace also benefitted financially from the sex trafficking. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The court announced that sentencing will take place on July 7, 2009.
"The defendant brutally forced a young woman to sell her body by which the defendant profited," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This type of crime is an affront to the dignity of the victim and the free society in which we live. The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute these cases."
"Ms. Wallace took advantage of the victim, brutally exploiting her," said U.S. Attorney Catherine L. Hanaway "We have an obligation to protect the most vulnerable members of our community."
Human trafficking prosecutions are a top priority of the Justice Department. In the last seven fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has increased by nearly seven-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court as compared to the previous seven fiscal years.
In announcing the plea, Acting Assistant Attorney General King and U.S. Attorney Hanaway commended the FBI and the St. Louis Metro Police Department for their work in this cooperative investigation and prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus and Civil Rights Division attorney Jim Felte are prosecuting this case for the government.