Man Who Was Arrested During "Operation Protect The Powerless" Sentenced To 13 Years For Transporting Two Girls From Nevada To California To Work As Prostitutes
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A Las Vegas man arrested in 2014 as part of “Operation Protect the Powerless,” a joint law enforcement operation to catch child predators in southern Nevada, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Andrew P. Gordon to 156 months in prison and lifetime supervised release, announced U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada.
“The defendant and his co-defendant exploited two minor girls for their financial benefit by forcing the girls to travel from Nevada to California to work as child prostitutes,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “This case is a prime example of successful state and nationwide efforts by multi-agencies and our law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute sexual predators. We remain committed to protecting children from sexual exploitation and abuse.”
Sha-Ron Haines, 20, was convicted by a jury on Aug. 25, 2015, of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child, one count of sex trafficking of a child, one count of conspiracy to transport a minor for prostitution or other illegal sexual activity, and one count of transportation of a minor for prostitution. Haines and co-defendant Tyral Edward King, 21, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 6, 2014. King pleaded guilty on Aug. 14, 2015, to one count of transportation of an individual for the purpose of prostitution, and was sentenced on March 1, 2016, to 30 months in prison.
According to court records, the investigation commenced on June 24, 2014, when a Clark County probation officer notified a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer that a 15-year-old girl might be involved in prostitution. Further investigation revealed that in May 2014, Haines and King had driven the 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old girl, from Las Vegas to Pomona, Calif. and Los Angeles, Calif., with the intent that they engage in prostitution. King’s name and credit card were used to purchase online advertisements on an internet site commonly used by prostitutes and pimps called, “Backpage,” to set up prostitution dates for the minors in California. In May, the girls then engaged in prostitution acts in California, and all of the money they earned was turned over to Haines and King. On May 22, 2014, the 17-year-old girl was arrested by an undercover Los Angeles police officer who had responded to one of the advertisements on “Backpage,” and had met her at a hotel for sex. The 15-year-old girl later returned home to Las Vegas on a bus.
In a separate pending federal case, Haines is charged with assaulting a Southern Nevada federal detention center officer on Feb. 9, 2015, by using his fist to strike the officer in the face, jaw and ear four times. The case is currently scheduled for trial on May 9, 2017.
Operation Protect the Powerless was organized and led by the Project Safe Childhood (PSC) Task Force in southern Nevada, and targeted child traffickers, persons who were coercing and enticing minors for sex, child pornographers, child molesters and child rapists. Members of the PSC Task Force include the FBI, the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Henderson Police Department, Clark County D.A.’s Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Operation Protect the Powerless occurred from June 1 to Dec. 31, 2014, and resulted in the prosecution and conviction of 219 persons, the execution of 100 search warrants, and the recovery of over 500,000 images and 2,700 videos of child rape and pornography. The surge also resulted in prosecutions being handled jointly by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Clark County District Attorney’s Office, and resulted in distinct charges in federal and state court.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa C. Cartier-Giroux and Susan Cushman.
This case was brought 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and for information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.