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Press Release

Four Philadelphians Charged With Sex Trafficking of Minors

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
The defendants allegedly advertised the minors online and harbored them in area hotels and properties

PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that John Adams, 41, Mercedes Hampton-Devero, 28, Malachai Kendall, 20, and Chukuw Ossai, 31, all of Philadelphia, PA, were arrested and charged in two separate Indictments with sex trafficking of minors. Kendall was also charged with both production and distribution of child pornography, and Adams was also charged with tampering with evidence in a federal investigation.

According to publicly filed court documents, Adams, whose self-professed nickname was “Captain Save-A-Hoe,” along with co-defendants Hampton-Devero and Kendall, trafficked two minors during approximately three weeks in January of 2020 from multiple locations in Philadelphia. The defendants allegedly used their cell phones to post advertisements of the victims on a website which is known to be used for advertising sexual services for a fee, directed the minors to participate in commercial sex acts, and took a portion of the proceeds on each occasion. During this time, Kendall also allegedly used his cell phone to record one of the minors performing oral sex on him and then sent the video to the minor victim. Also according to court documents, Adams and Kendall each coerced the minors into having sex with them on multiple occasions, and Hampton-Devero instructed one of the minor victims to record commercial sex acts on her cell phone for Devero to post online to attract more sex buyers. When the minors were rescued and Adams learned he was under investigation by the FBI, he allegedly wiped his cell phone clean of all incriminating evidence.

In a separate Indictment, Ossai is charged with the sex trafficking of a minor in late January 2020. According to public filings, Ossai trafficked one minor, took her to a lingerie store where he picked out lingerie for her, posted an advertisement of her on a website used to advertise sexual services for a fee, and harbored her in a hotel room in Lester, PA.  As charged, Ossai drove the minor victim to a housing project in Philadelphia for her to engage in a commercial sex act, and he attempted to have sex with her himself. The minor was rescued from Ossai’s vehicle after he was pulled over in Tinicum Township.

“The crimes alleged in these Indictments will have a devastating and long-lasting impact on these minor victims,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “We will continue to work collectively with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute these destructive crimes against vulnerable children.”

If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of life imprisonment.

These cases were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Tinicum Township Police Department and the Philadelphia Police Department, and are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Erica Kivitz.

An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


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Updated April 20, 2021

Human Trafficking