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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Former Washington, D.C. Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Sex Trafficking Of Two Minor Girls

MPD Police Officer from Maryland met two ninth grade girls online and paid them for sex.

Baltimore, Maryland – Chukwuemeka Ekwonna, age 29, of Glenn Dale, Maryland, pleaded guilty today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to two counts of  Sex Trafficking of a Minor. Between October 2016 and February 2017, Ekwonna, who at the time was a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in Washington, D.C., engaged in sexual conduct with two girls, who were 14 and 15 years old, in exchange for money. 

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Cardell T. Morant of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Timothy Altomare of the Anne Arundel County Police Department; and Anne Colt Leitess of the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“Police officers are sworn to protect our communities, not prey on our youth,” said U.S. Attorney Hur.  “We will continue to work with our partners to bring traffickers to justice and protect our most vulnerable.” 

According to the plea agreement, beginning on or about January 24, 2016, Ekwonna worked as a police officer with MPD in Washington, D.C.  Since 2010, Ekwonna has used an account on Tagged, a social media and dating platform that allows users to search for others based on location and to engage in real-time chat.

Between December 19, 2016, and April 5, 2017, Ekwonna exchanged approximately 200 text and Tagged messages with a 14-year-old girl (referenced in the plea agreement as “Girl 1”).  On several occasions, Ekwonna offered to pay Girl 1 to engage in sex acts with him.  Ekwonna met with Girl 1 and engaged in sex acts with her on at least five occasions, between October 18, 2016, and February 15, 2017.  Ekwonna engaged in illegal sex with the underage girl in different locations in the Annapolis area, including in motel rooms and Ekwonna’s vehicle.  Ekwonna typically paid Girl 1 between $30 and $40 to have sex with him. Messages between Ekwonna and the 14-year-old girl suggest that she was aware that Ekwonna was a police officer.  

On January 9, 2017, Ekwonna exchanged approximately 54 Tagged messages with a second underage girl, who was 15 years old at the time (referenced in the plea agreement as “Girl 2”).  In these messages, Ekwonna offered to pay the 15-year-old girl to engage in sex acts with him.  Ekwonna met Girl 2 in Glen Burnie, where he gave her $80 and engaged in sex acts with her in the back of his car.

Both victims were students in the ninth grade at the time of the offenses.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Ekwonna faces a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 years in prison.  He also will face no fewer than five years of supervised release and be required to register as a sex offender.  U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake has scheduled sentencing for May 10, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.

This case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders.  Members of the Task Force 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.

[Suspected instances of human trafficking can be reported to HSI’s tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by completing its online form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.]

In addition, this case was prosecuted 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 individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.  For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “resources” tab on the left of the page.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended Homeland Security Investigations, the Anne Arundel County Police Department, and the Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary A. Myers and Ray D. McKenzie, who are prosecuting the case.

 

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Updated January 29, 2019