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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 8, 2022

Boston Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking

Defendant maintained a tent at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard which he allegedly used as hub to traffic women for commercial sex and distribute drugs

BOSTON – A Boston man has been indicted on sex trafficking and cocaine charges stemming from his alleged maintenance of a drug and sex trafficking hub operating out of a tent at Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard (Mass and Cass).

Jonathan Vaughan, a/k/a “Ason,” 35, was indicted on three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, two counts of transportation of an individual for purposes of prostitution and one count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Vaughan will make an initial appearance in federal court in Boston on Monday, April 11, 2022.

According to the indictment unsealed today, from at least June 2019 through October 2021, Vaughan recruited and trafficked three female victims to engage in commercial sex acts by means of threats of force, fraud and coercion. It alleged that in or about October 2021, Vaughan transported two of the victims for purposes of prostitution to another state.  At the time of his arrest on state charges, on Oct. 13, 2021, Vaughan allegedly possessed 15 bags of cocaine intended for distribution to drug users.

“Sex trafficking is a heinous crime that inflicts immeasurable pain and trauma on victims and communities,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Vaughan allegedly preyed on and exploited multiple vulnerable victims, by coercion and by force, to engage in sex acts for his own financial benefit. He profited off of people’s pain. These alleged offenses are all too real – sex trafficking is happening all the time, even at this very moment, in our communities yet often goes unnoticed or ignored. No longer. My office will continue to work with community partners supporting victims and will use every means possible in our relentless pursuit to eradicate sex trafficking and the predators that perpetrate this violence and harm.”

“Vaughan is alleged to have used violence, threats, and drugs to coerce and control women, profiting financially by forcing them to perform sexual services for a fee and making it extremely difficult to escape,” said Matthew Millhollin, Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston Field Office. “Homeland Security Investigations is grateful to our partners at Barnstable Police Department and Boston Police Department for their collaboration in this case. Partnerships like these are critical to our mission to both investigate alleged human traffickers and help victims feel stable, safe, and secure.”

“The Barnstable Police Department recognizes the enormous impact on the victims and the community in these types of cases.  We also know that human trafficking affects all walks of life and has extended its toxic reach to the Cape Cod community.  Knowing these cases are often difficult for a single agency to investigate alone, we have dedicated Detective Katie Parache as a full time task force officer with the Department of Homeland Security Human Trafficking Task Force. Detective Parache will continue to work with state and federal partners to identify, target, and eradicate individuals that pray upon the vulnerable members of Cape Cod.  We are grateful for these strong partnerships that allowed us to fully investigate this case and bring justice and peace to the victims,” said Barnstable Police Department Chief Matthew Sonnabend.

“The Boston Police Department is committed to identifying and investigating sex trafficking in order to provide safety to victims and hold offenders accountable for horrific crimes such as these. This individual took advantage of, and terrorized the most vulnerable members of our community. I would like to thank the members of the Boston Police Department who worked on this investigation as well as our law enforcement partners for the tremendous collaboration and coordination that enabled this violent offender to be brought to justice. This indictment serves as a clear message that this egregious behavior will never be tolerated,” said Gregory Long, Superintendent-in-Chief of the Boston Police Department.

“Jonathan Vaughan is accused of sexually exploiting vulnerable women through force and coercion, and transporting them to other states,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Anyone who commits this heinous crime should know the FBI’s Child Exploitation – Human Trafficking Task Force will rigorously pursue them, while providing their victims with the resources they need to recover from the trauma they have suffered.”

“My office is working diligently to address the harm inflicted by violent human traffickers while ensuring that victims of sexual exploitation have the supports and services they need and deserve.  These indictments represent what we can do on behalf of both survivors and our communities when we collaborate across agencies. I’m grateful to the members of my Human Trafficking and Exploitation Unit, the Boston Police Department, and our federal partners for their tireless work to hold a violent individual accountable and protect vulnerable members of our community from exploitation,” said Kevin R. Hayden, Suffolk County District Attorney.

According to court documents, dating back to at least 2019, Vaughan systematically preyed on women throughout Massachusetts, particularly in Boston and on Cape Cod. From at least late spring or early summer of 2021 until his arrest on state charges in mid-October 2021, Vaughan allegedly maintained a tent at Mass and Cass which he used as a hub for distributing drugs and recruiting and trafficking women.

Vaughan allegedly permitted his sex trafficking victims to stay in and bring “dates” back to his tent so long as he received the proceeds of the commercial sex acts that the women engaged in at his direction. It is alleged that he recruited victims in and around Mass and Cass and Downtown Crossing as well as on the internet, including over Facebook. According to court documents, Vaughan also brought his victims to hotels in locations such as Boston, Chelsea, Saugus, the Cape, as well as Queens and Manhattan, N.Y.

Vaughan is also alleged to have forced at least two of his victims to solicit themselves outdoors, by walking “the track” in areas such as Mass and Cass, Broadway in Chelsea and in and around Times Square in Manhattan, N.Y. Dating back to at least 2019, Vaughan allegedly engaged in both physical and sexual violence against his victims to manipulate them and to assert power and control over them. The investigation also revealed that Vaughan allegedly called himself “Ason the Pimp” and had a tattoo across his chest that states: “Pimp or Die.”

Members of the public who believe they may be a victim of this crime should contact USAMA.VictimAssistance@usdoj.gov.

If you or someone you know may be impacted or experiencing commercial sex trafficking, please visit https://polarisproject.org/ for information and resources. 

The charges of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion provides for a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charges of transportation of an individual for purposes of prostitution provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $1 million dollars. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, HSI SAC Millhollin, FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta, Barnstable Police Chief Sonnabend, Suffolk County DA Hayden and BPD Acting Commissioner Long made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey E. Weinstein of Rollins’ Civil Rights Enforcement Team is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated April 8, 2022