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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

32-Year-Old North Carolina Resident Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking of a Minor

On September 24, 2019, Willie Dishon Matthew Obadiah, 32, of Charlotte, North Carolina, pled guilty to sex trafficking of a minor, before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom in Miami.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Juan J. Perez, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), made the announcement.

In February 2019, Obadiah met the minor victim through Facebook, and communicated with her via Facebook Messenger and text messages. At the time, both Obadiah and the minor victim lived in North Carolina, where he was already prostituting women. Through his communications with the victim, Obadiah learned that she was a minor. In fact, he asked her to send a photograph of her identification card to him. When he saw her age on the photograph, he sent her a message stating that he wished she had a “fake id” instead. Obadiah continued to communicate with the minor victim online, and learned that she was a runaway. While she was on the run, Obadiah agreed to pick up the minor victim. Shortly thereafter, he began prostituting the minor victim at various hotels, initially in North Carolina and then in Miami. Obadiah told the minor victim how much to charge for sex acts, how to deal with customers or “johns,” and what rules to abide by. Obadiah posted advertisements online for the minor victim, to which customers responded. Obadiah drove the minor victim to South Florida after a few days, where he prostituted her at hotels in Miami. The minor victim ran away from Obadiah, who returned to North Carolina, where he continued to prostitute women. He was arrested on April 19, 2019 by the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department. 

Obadiah is scheduled to be sentenced on December 5, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in Miami, before Judge Bloom (Case No. 19-cr-20321).  He faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years and a statutory sentence of up to life in prison.   

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force investigated this case in partnership with the Federal South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Human Trafficking Squad,  International Rescue Committee, and Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).  FBI Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina assisted with the case.

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigatory efforts of the FBI Miami Child Exploitation Task Force, MDPD, International Rescue Committee, DCF, and all those who assisted in this matter. Assistant U.S. Attorney Vanessa Johannes prosecuted this case.

To report suspected human trafficking or to obtain resources for victims, please call 1-888-373-7888; text “BeFree” (233733), or live chat at HumanTraffickingHotline.org. The toll-free phone, SMS text lines, and online chat function are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Help is available in English, Spanish, Creole, or in more than 200 additional languages. The National Hotline is not managed by law enforcement, immigration or an investigative agency. Correspondence with the National Hotline is confidential and you may request assistance or report a tip anonymously.

To learn more about the National Resource Hotline visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org. To learn more about the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to combat human trafficking visit www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated September 25, 2019