Federal Criminal Complaint Charges Two Men With Witness Tampering
Defendants Threatened to Harm Witnesses and Their Family Members
FORT WORTH, Texas — Bruce Trenshel Davis, aka “Wheatie,” 25, of Shreveport, Louisiana and Brandon Ray Austin, aka “Pep,” 31, of Fort Worth, Texas, appeared yesterday in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton, on a federal criminal complaint stemming from their attempt to threaten witnesses who were cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of a child sex trafficking organization, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
The complaint charges both Davis and Austin with one count of attempting to obstruct or interfere with enforcement and one count of tampering with a witness, victim, or informant. Magistrate Judge Cureton ordered both defendants to remain in custody pending further court hearings.
“Protecting victims and witnesses is one of the most important jobs of law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “We will aggressively prosecute those who attempt to threaten, intimidate, or do physical harm against those who cooperate and work with law enforcement. That commitment is never more steadfast than in cases such as this, involving violent threats against minor female victims who have been sexually exploited.”
In March of 2017, the Fort Worth Police Department’s VICE Unit conducted a recovery operation in response to a lead sent from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in reference to a suspected victim of Child Sex Trafficking. Fort Worth VICE Unit located and utilized a Backpage.com ad containing photographs of a minor female that advertised commercial sex acts. As a result of the operation, the minor female was recovered. Additionally, two other minor females, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, were also located. The operation resulted in eight men being arrested on sex trafficking of children charges.
Demarcus Davis, Kentrell Davis, Pierre Lagrone, Herman Sanders and Reginald Smith were among the eight charged.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, on July 25, 2017, Bruce Davis, a relative of Demarcus Davis and Kentrell Davis, sent threatening text messages to Jane Doe 2, the 17-year-old female victim in the case mentioned above. Bruce Davis threatened physical harm to Jane Doe 2 and her family because he believed she was cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of Kentrell Davis and Demarcus Davis.
Another witness who cooperated with law enforcement and provided valuable evidence that detailed the size and scope of the same child sex trafficking organization received threats from Austin, according to the affidavit. Austin was friends with Lagrone, Sanders and Smith. On October 18 and 19, 2017 Austin sent text messages to the witness threatening her in relation to her cooperation in the prosecution of Lagrone, Sanders and Smith.
A complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The government has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment. The maximum penalty for the offense is not more than 20 years in federal prison.
The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Worth, Tyler and Arlington Police Departments are investigating. Assistant U.S. Attorney P.J. Meitl is in charge of the prosecution.
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