MS-13 Gang Leader Sentenced to Life in Prison for Racketeering Charges Including the Murder of 16-Year-Old Victim in Alley Pond Park in Queens
Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn federal court charging Douglas Welch, also known as “Paradise,” with sex trafficking by force, sex trafficking conspiracy, interstate prostitution and promotion of prostitution. The charges in the indictment relate to Welch allegedly forcing victims to engage in prostitution, in among other places, a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn known as the “Penn Track.” Welch was arrested today and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge James R. Cho.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Edward A. Caban, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrest and
“As alleged, Welch has trafficked multiple women for his own financial benefit while boasting about the cruel and brutal violence he has inflicted on the vulnerable victims,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Running a brazen, open-air commercial sex market in East New York or anywhere else in our district is unacceptable, dangerous to our communities, and especially harmful to women caught in this terrible cycle of abuse. Today’s indictment will hold the defendant accountable in a federal courtroom for his exploitative crimes.”
Mr. Peace also thanked the New York City Department of Corrections, the New York City Human Resources Administration, and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their valuable assistance with the case.
“Today’s charges further affirm our unwavering commitment to protecting the survivors of sex trafficking,” stated NYPD Commissioner Caban. “Together with our law enforcement partners, the NYPD will continue to ensure that anyone seeking to profit through the abuse and exploitation of another human being is identified, investigated, and indicted. I commend everyone involved at the FBI and the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York for their work on this important case.”
The Penn Track has for years operated as an open-air market where Welch and others have forced trafficking victims to earn money for them by engaging in commercial sex acts with customers in cars or nearby hotels.
As alleged in court documents, Welch recruited women to work on his behalf along the Penn Track and used threats and violence to force those victims to engage in commercial sex with customers, and provide him with the profits. Welch routinely threatened his victims with physical violence if they disobeyed his orders, telling one victim, “if you f*** with the pimping, I’m gonna crack your head” and threatening to “slap the s***” out of another victim for not listening to him. He also bragged about knocking unconscious trafficking victims who disrespected him or other traffickers, including describing one instance in which he grabbed a woman by the throat, knocked her onto the sidewalk and then body slammed her for disrespecting another pimp along the Penn Track. Welch struck a victim with a baseball bat for refusing to engage in prostitution after he directed her to do so, telling another sex trafficker that he wanted to leave a “stain on her brain.”
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of the charges, Welch faces a minimum term of 15 years in prison, and up to life imprisonment.
If you are a victim of trafficking—whether by Welch or someone else—and have information to provide, please contact the FBI, which is prepared to help you regardless of your immigration status, at tips.fbi.gov or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section. Assistant United States Attorney Erin Reid, Kayla Bensing and Joshua Dugan are in charge of the prosecution.
Douglas Welch (also known as “Paradise”)
Queens, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No.
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office