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Press Release

Cleveland Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison Following Convictions of Sex Trafficking, Production of Child Pornography and Shooting at Federal Agents

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Reuben Rankin, 36, of Cleveland, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Pamela A. Barker to 40 years in federal prison and ordered to pay special assessments of $5,500 following his convictions at trial of sex trafficking of a minor, production of child pornography, assaulting a federal agent with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm.  

“Trafficking children is a heinous crime, one that has earned the defendant every day of his 40-year prison sentence,” said First Assistant United States Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler.  “In addition to this evil act, this defendant recklessly endangered the lives of federal law enforcement officers, and our community is now safer with him behind bars.  The Department of Justice will continue to bring the full force of the law against traffickers in Ohio and around the country.”

“Today’s 40-year sentence is a testament to the collaboration between state, local and federal agencies coming together to hold human traffickers accountable and provide victims a tangible example on how we come together to protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and implement a whole-of government partnership with law enforcement and our NGO partners who are critical in this space,” said Angie Salazar, special agent in charge for HSI Detroit.

According to court documents, in May 2019, Rankin engaged in sex trafficking of a minor and production of child pornography in order to raise money to purchase drugs, clothing and an SUV.  Rankin relied heavily on income earned from commercial sex acts to fund his lifestyle. 

On October 30, 2019, law enforcement officers with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed a search warrant at Rankin’s residence in Cleveland as part of an investigation into his activities.  As law enforcement agents approached the residence, Rankin fired six shots in rapid succession at the agents through the window of his vehicle parked in the driveway.  An agent returned fire with one shot.  Officers then arrested Rankin and recovered a .45 caliber pistol, spent rounds of ammunition, drugs and two cell phones from his vehicle.

"The HSI Detroit Special Response Team demonstrated extraordinary discipline and restraint in this very difficult situation,” said Jared Murphey, SRT Commander.  “The brave members of our team exposed themselves to extreme danger during this operation.  It is their honor to protect the community from dangerous criminals like this defendant.”

Rankin is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition due to previous convictions of kidnapping, witness intimidation, aggravated assault and abduction in the Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court.

Rankin was convicted by a federal jury on January 28, 2022, of all counts of a superseding indictment following a nine-day trial in Cleveland.

This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Cuyahoga County Human Trafficking Task Force and the Cleveland Police Department.  This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Carol M. Skutnik, Edward F. Feran and Vanessa V. Healy.


Daniel Ball

Updated February 27, 2024

Project Safe Childhood
Human Trafficking
Firearms Offenses