Greenbelt, Maryland – U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Kenneth Wayne Hart, a/k/a Redds, Wayne Hawkins, Hawk, Big Daddy, Billy Reds, and Bill Red Hart, age 59, of Beltsville, Maryland, yesterday to 25 years in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release, on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics; a sex trafficking conspiracy; two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; and witness tampering. Hart was convicted of those charges on March 12, 2020, after a seven-day jury trial.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Interim Chief Hector Velez of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“As this case demonstrates, sex trafficking is a cruel business—often using violence and threats to control victims,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Working to end human trafficking is a priority for the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office and we are proud to be one of the founding members of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, which brings together law enforcement, victim service providers and survivor advocates to help human trafficking victims and bring the traffickers to justice.”
According to the evidence presented at his seven-day trial, beginning in December 2016 and continuing until April 2017, Hart conspired with a co-conspirator to run a prostitution business using force, threats, fraud, and coercion to cause women to engage in commercial sex acts. Hart and his co-conspirator also distributed narcotics, including to the women he recruited to work in the prostitution business. The evidence proved that Hart recruited women to engage in commercial sex acts in Maryland and Washington, D.C. Hart transported, photographed, and advertised the victims for commercial sex on websites set up for that purpose. According to trial testimony, Hart also supplied the victims with heroin and crack cocaine on a daily basis and threatened to withhold—and did withhold—the narcotics if the victims displayed any sign of disobedience or tried to leave the locations where the commercial sex acts occurred. According to trial evidence, in order to maintain control over the women he recruited to prostitute, Hart demanded that the women surrender to him their personal belongings, including identification cards, credit cards, cash, clothing, and cellular phones, and confiscated their earnings from the commercial sex acts. As detailed in trial testimony, Hart installed a padlock on the bedroom door of a condominium Hart used for the prostitution business, and locked the victims in the room for hours or days at a time, using a daily combination of heroin and crack cocaine to control and coerce the victims. Hart also used physical force, threatened physical force, and verbally abused the victims to force them to engage in prostitution against their will. Even if the door to the bedroom was left open, the victims feared leaving the room and the condominium because they believed that Hart would find them no matter where they went, and that Hart would punish them for trying to leave him.
The jury also found that the evidence proved that Hart used physical force and threatened physical force to prevent an individual from communicating to a law enforcement officer information related to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The sex trafficking charges were investigated by the FBI-led Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force (MCETF), created in 2010 to combat child prostitution, with members from10 state and federal law enforcement agencies. The Task Force coordinates with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit to identify missing children being advertised online for prostitution.
MCETF partners with the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_human.html.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF, FBI, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer R. Sykes and Daniel C. Gardner, who prosecuted the case.
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