Denver Man Sentenced to Over 12 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking of Minors Across State Lines
Investigation conducted by FBI Innocence Lost Task Force
DENVER – Terrell Layne Smith, aka “Swiss”, age 35 of Denver, Colorado, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello to serve 151 months (over 12 years) in federal prison for Transportation with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity, U.S. Attorney John Walsh, and FBI Denver Division Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle announced. The sentenced was handed down last Thursday, January 7, 2016. In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Arguello ordered Smith to serve 5 years on supervised release and once released from prison, he is to register as a sex offender. The defendant, who appeared at the sentencing hearing in custody, was remanded at its conclusion.
Smith was first charged by Criminal Complaint on April 10, 2014. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 7, 2014. He pled guilty before Judge Arguello on September 10, 2015. He was sentenced on January 7, 2016.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, two minor girls, Minor #1 and Minor #2 met through high school. In early August 2012, Defendant Smith became acquainted with the mother of Minor #2. The defendant began to live at the home of the mother of Minor #2, along with Minor #2 and her four siblings. Minor #1 also came to live at the home of Minor #2 sometime during the late summer of 2012. The defendant knew that Minor #1 was 16 or 17 years of age and knew that Minor #2 was 17 years of age. While the defendant was living with Minor #1 and Minor #2, he told them they could earn money by going out on “dates,” referring to prostitution or commercial sex acts.
The defendant used his cell phone to take pictures of Minor #1 in Colorado and in Arizona. In the pictures, Minor #1 was posed in sexual poses in various sorts of attire, including lingerie. Minor #1 took pictures of Minor #2 posed in sexual poses while partially nude. The photographs were used to advertise the availability of Minor #1 and Minor #2 for prostitution on a website named “Backpage.com.” The defendant used his cell phone to access the Internet and post the images on “Backpage.com,” advertising the availability of the minors in the ad. In many of the “Backpage.com” postings, the number for the defendant’s cell phone was listed as the contact number for individuals who wanted to respond to the ads. The ads implied that the images of Minor #1 and Minor #2 posted in conjunction with the advertisements were 20 or 21 years of age. Minor #1 also started posting her own ads on “Backpage.com” using the defendant’s phone, although she did not have a “Backpage.com” account. On those occasions, Minor #1 was given a pre-paid credit card either by the defendant or by an adult prostitute associated with the defendant to post the ads.
From September 19, 2012, to approximately October 4, 2012, the defendant transported the minors to various locations in Colorado, including private homes and hotels, so that one or both minors could participate in prostitution. Beginning on October 4, 2012, the defendant, Minor #1, and Minor #2 embarked upon a trip to the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area, in a vehicle rented by the mother of Minor #2. Prior to the trip from Colorado to Arizona, both minors understood that they would be engaging in prostitution in Arizona based on communications with the defendant. Advertisements were posted on “Backpage.com” in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area advertising that the Minors were available for prostitution during the time period they were in Arizona. Minor #1 engaged in prostitution in Arizona during this time period. The defendant, and the two minors then returned to Colorado on approximately October 10, 2012.
The defendant transported Minor #1 to Arizona again on approximately October 11, 2012 so that she could participate in prostitution. Minor #1 engaged in at least one act of prostitution on the trip. On October 14, 2012, Minor #1 was arrested on a runaway warrant in Phoenix, Arizona. The investigation revealed that the defendant prostituted the minors, receiving a percentage of the money paid to the minors by the prostitution customers for commercial sex acts. The defendant also bought the minors clothing, food, and provided them with marijuana during the above-described time period.
“This case involved one of the worst forms of human trafficking – sex trafficking of minors across state lines,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Thanks to the hard work of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force and federal prosecutors, Defendant Smith was captured, convicted and sentenced to an appropriately heavy sentence.”
“Terrell Smith’s sentence is an illustration of the FBI’s commitment to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Thomas Ravenelle. “The FBI’s Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task force will continue to diligently work with our local, state, and federal partners to identify and prosecute child predators.”
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force.
Smith was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alecia Riewerts.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.