Washington Man Pleads Guilty to Obstructing an Investigation into Sex Trafficking of Children
BOISE – Dyrell Robert Swinson, 20, of Tacoma, Washington, pleaded guilty today in United States District Court to an information charging him with obstructing a sex trafficking of children investigation, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced.
According to the plea agreement, on March 8, 2012, law enforcement observed suspicious behavior by the occupants of a vehicle eastbound on Interstate 84 in Payette County, Idaho. The vehicle was intercepted at a rest area and the two occupants of the vehicle were questioned by an Idaho State Police trooper. The officer determined that Swinson, the driver of the vehicle, had a suspended Washington driver’s license. The passenger, a young female whom Swinson said was his cousin, was unable to provide identification. The trooper, believing the female’s stated age to be false, conducted a consensual search of the vehicle and discovered items inconsistent with statements made by the vehicle’s occupants. Swinson was arrested for driving without privileges and both individuals were taken to the Payette County Jail. During an interview at the jail, the passenger admitted her true age – 15 – and identity. A check with Idaho State Police dispatch revealed the juvenile was a ward of the state of Washington and a runaway who had disappeared on November 22, 2011.
According to the plea agreement, Swinson -- advised that telephone calls from the jail were being recorded -- made several calls requesting other parties to alter or delete electronic records. During the investigation, law enforcement discovered that Swinson had posted provocative photographs of the 15-year-old on Internet advertisement web sites with telephone numbers for customers to call. Swinson admitted that his solicitations of other persons to alter, eliminate or destroy evidence stored online was an attempt to obstruct the enforcement of federal law involving sex trafficking of a minor.
The charge of obstructing a sex trafficking of children investigation is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and at least five years up to lifetime supervised release.
Sentencing is set for January 29, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Boise.
“Sex trafficking victimizes vulnerable teens, often forcing them into a desperate lifestyle so that others may profit,” said Olson. “Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in Idaho are working together to identify and rescue these victims and to ensure that the traffickers are punished.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Idaho State Police, and the Payette County Sheriff’s Office.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.