Two Men Sentenced to Multiple Life Sentences for Enticing Women to South Florida to Engage in Commercial Sex Acts and Distributing Date Rape Pills
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Keith F. Dunn, Chief, Miramar Police Department, announce the sentencing of defendants Lavont Flanders Jr., 41, of Miami Gardens, and Emerson Callum, 45, of Miami, on sex trafficking charges. On February 16, 2012, U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore sentenced both defendants to twelve consecutive terms of life imprisonment.
On December 7, 2011, a federal jury convicted both defendants on charges of sex trafficking. The charges spanned from 2006 through July of 2011. During that time, the defendants had perpetrated a cruel fraud to lure aspiring models to South Florida by promising them an opportunity to audition for modeling roles that, it would later turn out, never existed. Once the victims arrived in Miami, Flanders would instruct them to perform an audition for a purported alcoholic beverage commercial. During this purported audition, the victims were asked to promote and drink different brands of alcohol, while Flanders filmed. Unbeknownst to the victims, the alcoholic beverages Flanders provided them were laced with benzodiazepines, a common date rape drug. Once the drugs had taken effect, Flanders would drive the victims to Callum, who had sex with the victims while Flanders filmed. The defendants then edited, produced, and sold the footage of the sex acts over the Internet and to pornography stores and businesses all across the country.
Five of the victims appeared at the sentencing hearing, and four addressed the Court with prepared remarks. One of these, “C.P.,” did not testify at the jury trial because she was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was deployed to Iraq at the time. During her testimony, C.P. thanked the victims who were brave enough to endure cross-examination at trial in order to tell all of the victims’ stories. The other victims who spoke, all of whom had testified at the trial, spoke movingly about the various ways in which the defendants’ crimes had affected their lives.
United States Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “These two men were convicted of luring their victims to South Florida, and promising them a career in modeling. Once the victims arrived in Florida, however, the defendants drugged them, raped them, filmed the rape, and sold the recorded footage online and at pornography stores. The multiple life sentences imposed by the Court are warranted punishment for the cruelty and depravity with which these defendants treated their young victims. We are hopeful that today's sentences will bring some closure to the victims. But more importantly, we thank the victims for their courage in coming forth and facing their abusers in open court. Today's victory is theirs."
"We are pleased that the judge sent a clear message to these two evil predators who committed these heinous acts and gave them the maximum sentence, life in prison. This type of behavior against women will not be tolerated” said FBI Miami Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies. “We will continue to work with all our law enforcement partners to identify, investigate and prosecute all predators operating in South Florida.”
Mr. Ferrer also commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Miramar Police Department. Mr. Ferrer would also like to thank the Miami-Dade Police Department, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Hollywood Police Department, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Pembroke Pines Police Department, the Miami Gardens Police Department, and the Prince George's County Police Department in Maryland for their assistance in this investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Roy Altman and Barbara Martinez.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.