Maryland Residents Get Lengthy Sentences on Federal Charges Related to Sex Trafficking of Minors
Minor Victims Exploited for Commercial Sex, Forced to Turn Over All Proceeds
WASHINGTON – Willis Lewis, 49, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, and Brittany Jones, 33, of Suitland, Maryland, were sentenced today for their roles in a sex trafficking operation involving teenage victims. Lewis was sentenced to life in prison; Jones was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The result was announced by United States Attorney Matthew M. Graves, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, FBI Special Agent in Charge Wayne A. Jacobs, of the Washington Field Office Criminal and Cyber Division, and Chief Robert J. Contee III, of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Lewis was found guilty by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in May of last year, of 12 counts including four counts of sex trafficking of children by force, fraud, and coercion, one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, three counts of coercion or enticement of a minor, two counts of transporting for prostitution, one count of interstate travel and transportation in aid of racketeering, and a firearms offense; Jones was convicted of four counts including sex trafficking, conspiracy, and transportation in aid of racketeering. The defendants were charged in connection with their trafficking of a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl between April and May of 2019. Lewis was sentenced to life on ten counts and to 15 years on the two remaining counts. His two sentences will run concurrently.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered 10 years of supervised release for each defendant and ordered each to pay $17,000 in restitution to the victims.
“This lengthy sentence gets a dangerous predator off the streets for a very long time.” said U.S. Attorney Graves. “His lengthy confinement will keep other teenagers safe and serve as a warning to those who are considering exploiting our youth. Those harming our young women and girls need to know that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, along with the FBI and our other law enforcement partners, will track you down and hold you accountable for the pain and suffering you cause.”
“This defendant targeted children, callously exploiting their vulnerability,” said Assistant Attorney General Clarke. “The Department of Justice remains committed to holding traffickers accountable for the pernicious and inhumane exploitation of young children despite the harm these crimes inflict. We will use every tool at our disposal to obtain justice and restitution for the victims of human trafficking. We commend the courageous young victims here who stood up to their traffickers.”
“Today’s sentences demonstrate that the FBI and our partners will aggressively investigate all members of sex trafficking networks, from the leader of the operation to those involved in the recruitment, transportation, and harboring of victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Jacobs. “Let this be a message to anyone who would engage in trafficking minors: The FBI will ensure that those engaged in these horrid crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
According to the government’s evidence, Jones, working with two co-conspirators who since pleaded guilty, brought the two victims to Lewis for the purposes of trafficking them. After they were in Lewis’s custody, Lewis set up “dates” for the two girls each day for almost two weeks and Lewis pocketed the money that the two girls made from these dates. Lewis used a loyalty contract, a firearm, and acts of violence to coerce the victims into performing commercial sex for his profit. Law enforcement became involved in this investigation after the two victims ran away from a residential facility in Virginia and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a missing person’s report.
At trial, the co-conspirators testified against Lewis and Jones and were corroborated by independent evidence, including material from the digital devices and cell phone location data.
This case was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is composed of FBI agents, along with other federal agents and detectives from northern Virginia and the District of Columbia, including the Metropolitan Police Department. The task force is charged with investigating and bringing federal charges against individuals engaged in the exploitation of children and those engaged in human trafficking.
This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Childhood initiative. In February 2006, the Attorney General created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhoodgov
In announcing the sentences, U.S. Attorney Graves, Special Agent in Charge Jacobs, and Chief Contee commended the work of the MPD Detectives and Special Agents of the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, as well as the MPD’s Human Trafficking Unit. They also acknowledged the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Justice Department, including Paralegal Specialists Genevieve De Guzman, Karla Nunez, and Irina Tchernoskoutova, and Victim/Witness Advocate Yvonne Bryant.
Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Janani Iyengar and Trial Attorney Elizabeth Hutson of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, who investigated and prosecuted the matter.