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Press Release

Sex Traffickers Convicted of Cross-Country Exploitation of a Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

MIAMI – On March 8, a federal trial jury in Miami found Xavier Latrell Smith, 34, and Jayla Denice Welch, 22, both of Texas, guilty of carrying out a sex trafficking conspiracy involving a minor victim.

Smith and Welch were convicted of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor to engage in sexual activity, and coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity.  In addition, Smith was convicted of two counts of commission of a sex offense by a registered sex offender.

During the five-day trial, the government put on evidence that showed Smith, a registered sex offender, and Welch lured the minor victim to engage in sexual acts with false promises of a better life.  Smith and Welch then posted commercial sex ads of the minor victim online as they travelled with the victim from Texas to Louisiana to Florida, where she was trafficked and engaged in prostitution.  Smith and Welch collected the money the victim received from the unlawful sexual acts.

Based on the evidence presented, the minor victim was rescued from a hotel room reserved and paid for by Smith and occupied by Welch and the minor victim. During the course of the investigation, Smith’s cellular device rang when agents called the TextNow number associated with the minor victim’s commercial sex ads. After the minor victim was rescued, law enforcement reviewed Smith and Welch’s phones and recovered records of them photographing, posting and maintaining the commercial sex ads of the minor victim in six different cities. Welch and Smith both paid for and reserved hotel rooms that the minor victim used for the illegal sexual activity with the commercial sex customers.

Smith and Welch are scheduled to be sentenced on May 31, before U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom.  Smith faces a maximum penalty of life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment.  Welch faces a maximum penalty of life in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of FBI, Miami Field Office, and Director Stephanie V. Daniels of the Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD) made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with MDPD’s Human Trafficking Squad, and the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Abbie D. Waxman and Bertila Lilia Fernandez are prosecuting the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Eloisa Fernandez is handling asset forfeiture.

To report suspected human trafficking or to obtain resources for victims, please call 1-888-373-7888; text “BeFree” (233733), or live chat at  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 hotline, visit

To learn more about the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to combat human trafficking visit

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or at under case number 23-cr-20122.



Public Affairs Unit

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of Florida

Updated March 12, 2024

Human Trafficking