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Press Release

Newberry Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Federal Prison for Sex Trafficking Conspiracy, Firearm Possession and Witness Tampering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Eric Rashun Jones, 31, of Newberry, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to human trafficking conspiracy, felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and witness tampering.

Evidence presented in court showed that from August 2018 through November 2022, Jones violently exploited women in the commercial sex trade for his financial gain. He did so by means of physical violence and force, including beating victims with a pistol and other objects and hitting victims with closed fists causing victims multiple surgeries, hospitalizations, broken bones and teeth, permanent injuries, and scarring. He also directed and recorded on his phone the assault of many victims, preventing victims from trusting others involved in the Jones conspiracy. He also used sexual violence, including compelling women to engage in sex acts against their will. 

He abducted two of his victims and restrained them for multiple days. He introduced drugs to some victims, promoted the drug addictions of others, including fentanyl, and exploited withdrawal symptoms to coerce commercial sex. He used fear and threats of violence and death of victims spoke with the police. He used fraud, including recruiting victims under false pretenses, and high levels of control, including controlling how many victims worked, ate, showered, travelled, spent money, who they spoke to, and access to phones. He isolated his victims from others, and tattooed many with his name, which victims described as Jones signifying ownership. 

After initially splitting commercial sex proceeds, Jones commonly confiscated proceeds for his financial gain. Evidence presented indicated 19 women were connected to the conspiracy he led, many of whom were identified as victims in the case. Victims described fearing Jones would kill them, feeling trapped, and feeling like they had no option to leave. He also tampered and interfered with the investigation by directing victims to not speak with agents and threatening to harm their families if they did.  

“Our office will continue to bring every resource to bear to vindicate victims’ rights and hold traffickers like Jones accountable,” said Adair F. Boroughs, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina.  “The cruelty, violence, and exploitation Jones showed his victims has no place in our society, and we are grateful for the accountably he’s received. I want to particularly acknowledge the courage and resilience of the victims and the hard work of law enforcement to see this case through.”

“Jones’ crimes revealed the depth of human depravity and outright evil he casually and continuously imposed upon his victims,” said Steve Jensen, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Columbia Field Office. “His heinous crimes yielded lifelong trauma that will be hard to reverse. This stiff sentence of justice removes him from the innocent victims’ lives and places him where he will no longer be able to inflict harm. The FBI is grateful for our local law enforcement partners for conducting this joint comprehensive investigation to hold this violent offender accountable. We also recognize the diligent work of the Victim Specialists who supported and continue to support the victims with valuable resources.”

United States District Judge Sherri A. Lydon sentenced Jones to 40 years imprisonment, to be followed by a lifetime term of court-ordered supervision, no contact with victims, and $65,000 in restitution payable to eight victims. There is no parole in the federal system. Jones’ co-defendant, Brittany Cromer, previously pleaded guilty to human trafficking conspiracy, and was sentenced to five years earlier this month.

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 gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.

This case was investigated by the FBI Columbia Field Office, with assistance from the Simpsonville Police Department, Greenville Police Department, Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry Police Department, Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elliott B. Daniels and Elle E. Klein prosecuted the case.




CONTACT PERSON:   Veronica Hill, Public Affairs Specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (803) 929-3000

Updated April 30, 2024

Human Trafficking
Firearms Offenses