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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 6, 2020

Chico Man Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking of a Minor and Distribution of Methamphetamine to a Minor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Christopher Ramonaguilar Lawrence, 25, of Chico, was sentenced today to 14 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and distribution of methamphetamine to a person under 21, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, in July and August 2017, Lawrence recruited a then 17-year-old girl to engage in prostitution for his financial benefit. Lawrence used social media to communicate with the victim, and on two occasions, he lured the victim to Chico motel rooms where he gave the victim methamphetamine, explained the methods of his prostitution business, including how to detect and evade law enforcement, and continued to recruit the victim to work for him as a prostitute. After a seven-day trial, a federal jury found Lawrence guilty on Aug. 29, 2019.

“Sex trafficking can occur in any community, and it is an exploitive, abusive crime that treats human beings as mere commodities to be bought and sold,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “Our agents work closely with our local, state, and federal partners to identify individuals who are trafficking minors and adults for financial gain to disrupt this activity in the communities we serve. Today, as a result of our partnership with the Chico Police Department and Butte County Sheriff’s Office, an exploiter who entrapped his victim in a cycle of abuse and addiction will pay the penalty for his crimes, and those he exploited can take another step towards healing.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chico Police Department, and the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Quinn Hochhalter prosecuted the case.

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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet safety education.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 
2:17-cr-228
Updated July 6, 2020