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Press Release

Knoxville Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking Conspiracy and Related Drug Offenses

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

U.S. District Court Judge R. Leon Jordan of the Eastern District of Tennessee sentenced Marcus D. Washington today to 10 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.  Washington pleaded guilty on November 21, 2016, to one count of conspiracy to commit commercial sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1594(c), conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C), and possession with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C).  

According to court documents, on September 25, 2013, Knox County Sherriff Deputies arrested Washington after he arranged for a woman to meet an undercover law enforcement officer in a hotel for commercial sex.  Police seized Oxycodone from Washington at the time of his arrest.  A subsequent investigation revealed that Washington recruited the woman to engage in prostitution, knowing that she was addicted to Oxycodone and that she feared withdrawal sickness. In the weeks prior to his arrest, Washington threatened to – and did in fact – withhold Oxycodone from the woman as a means to compel to her to prostitute for his profit.  Washington kept all of the money from the prostitution.  In addition to manipulating her addiction and fear of withdrawal symptoms, Washington assaulted and threatened physical harm against the woman.

“Opiate addiction exists in every corner of this country,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “This defendant used an addicted woman’s fear of opiate withdrawal as his weapon of coercion – all for his own profit.”

“Today’s sentencing demonstrates that the FBI will identify, investigate, and prosecute those who commit human trafficking violations wherein force, fraud and coercion is used for personal profit,” said FBI Knoxville Special Agent in Charge Renae McDermott.  

The Court ordered Washington to pay nearly $14,000 in restitution to two victims referenced in the plea agreement.

This case was investigated by the FBI.  The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney William Nolan of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and Trial Attorneys Rose E. Gibson and Nicholas Durham of the Civil Rights Division.

Updated April 25, 2017

Civil Rights
Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 17-321