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Justice News

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

Monday, June 11, 2018

Seven Des Moines Individuals Charged with Sex Trafficking

DES MOINES, Iowa – On March 28, 2018, a federal grand jury returned an Indictment charging seven defendants with sex trafficking announced United States Attorney Marc Krickbaum. Six defendants were arrested and appeared in federal court in Des Moines. The remaining defendant was arrested on June 8, 2018, in Texas. Trial is scheduled for October 15, 2018, before United States District Court Chief Judge John A. Jarvey.

According to the Indictment, in the Spring and Summer of 2017, the defendants trafficked three adult victims. Darren Coleman, Sarina Williams, Mark Carter, and Stephen Cobb are alleged to have conspired with one another, and actually engaged in, sex trafficking of a victim by force, fraud, and coercion. Coleman and Cobb are further alleged to have used a firearm in the course of trafficking the victim. Coleman and Sarina Williams are charged with additional offenses relating to the travel of the victim across state lines for the purposes of prostitution.

Mark Carter, Julyen Singleton, Ronzell Williams, and Breanna Brown are charged in the same Indictment with conspiring with one another to traffic, and to have actually trafficked, a separate victim by force, fraud, and coercion. Mark Carter is also charged with sex trafficking a third victim by force, fraud and coercion, and for using a firearm in the course of these offenses.

Each defendant is subject to a fifteen-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, up to life imprisonment. Conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking has no mandatory minimum prison sentence and has a maximum term of imprisonment of life.

The public is reminded that an Indictment is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless they are proven guilty.

Human trafficking is defined as a crime involving the exploitation of youth under the age of 18 for commercial sex; the exploitation of adults for commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion; and the exploitation of any individual for compelled labor. Human trafficking does not require the transportation of individuals across state lines, or that someone is physically restrained. Signs that a person is being trafficked can include working excessively long hours, unexplained gifts, physical injury, substance abuse issues, running away from home, isolation from others, or having a person in their life controlling them or monitoring them closely. Anyone who suspects human trafficking is occurring, be it a minor engaging in paid sex acts, or anyone being coerced into prostitution or labor, is urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

This case was investigated by the Des Moines Police Department, Vice and Narcotics Control Section. Analytical support has been provided by the Iowa Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center, Department of Public Safety, as well as the Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center. The Polk County Attorney’s Office also assisted with this prosecution. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Human Trafficking
Rachel J. Scherle 515-473-9300
Updated June 11, 2018