Law Enforcement Task Force Announces First Federal Charges For Human Trafficking
U.S. Attorney says collaborative investigation has resulted in first-of-kind charges
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph H. Hogsett, the United States Attorney, announced this afternoon the filing of a nine count federal indictment against Jerry Mitchell, a/k/a “Tre da Great,” age 24, of Indianapolis. The charges include sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a child, transporting a child to engage in prostitution, and the production of child pornography. This follows Mitchell’s arrest by Indianapolis law enforcement and the filing of charges by Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, and comes as federal and local authorities have joined forces to combat human trafficking and child exploitation.
“The scourge of human trafficking is a global crisis, but the fight against modern day slavery begins right here at home,” Hogsett said. “That is why we have teamed up with law enforcement partners across this state and around the country to combat the types of horrific abuse that are alleged in this case.”
“This indictment shows the importance of partnerships across all levels to address the horrific crime of human trafficking,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels. “The Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorneys offices across the country will continue their aggressive work to combat these types of crimes.”
The Investigation and Allegations
According to the federal indictment and state probable cause affidavit, an investigation into Mitchell’s alleged criminal activity began in July 2013, when officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department were flagged down and informed by a woman that her niece, a recent runaway, had returned home and reported she had been the victim of a sexual assault. Further investigation resulted in the identification of a suspect who went by the name of “Tre,” an alleged alias of Mitchell, as well as information indicating that the defendant was operating a prostitution operation in and around the Near Northside of Indianapolis.
The indictment alleges that from May 2013 through June 27, 2013, Mitchell engaged in sex trafficking by means of force, fraud, or coercion. The allegations include female victims between the ages 19-21, as well as a minor age 17, a minor age 16, and a minor age 12. It is further alleged that Mitchell would transport the minors to facilitate their prostitution activities, and that on a number of occasions he sexually assaulted these female minors. The federal indictment alleges that on June 22, 2013, Mitchell also made a video recording of the sexual abuse of the 16 year old female victim.
Mitchell had an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Indianapolis this afternoon, and was ordered detained pending trial. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to life in federal prison. Under federal law, the defendant would be required to serve a minimum of 85% of his prison term within a correctional facility.
Joint Task Force on Human Trafficking
This case was the result of a collaborative investigation spearheaded by the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans (IPATH), one of 42 task forces nationwide funded by the Department to address the issue of human trafficking. IPATH was created in 2006 and is chaired by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. The group meets regularly to collaborate on cases and projects, provide additional training to law enforcement, and raise awareness in our community about human trafficking.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Gayle L. Helart, who is prosecuting the case for the government, this case would not have been possible without significant law enforcement assistance from the Homeland Security Investigations, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In addition, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry has announced that he will continue to prosecute a pending felony child molestation case against Mitchell in Marion County Superior Court. In 2011, Curry’s office prosecuted Indiana’s first conviction under the state’s revamped human trafficking law.
The following law enforcement partners released statements in response to today’s announcement:
“The collaborative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement partners to hold traffickers accountable and serve victims are essential. Sex trafficking – especially when it involves children who are being trafficked on the Internet – requires all of our efforts and I applaud U.S. Attorney Hogsett's leadership in this case. Human trafficking isn’t just a problem elsewhere in the world, it happens right here in Indiana.” -- Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller
“Few crimes strike at the heart of a community the way human trafficking does. Traffickers who prey on the emotional and physical vulnerability of their victims in the name of making a profit will be held accountable for their actions. HSI, along with our law enforcement partners in Indiana, will continue to aggressively investigate human trafficking to identify and rescue its innocent victims.” -- Gary Woolf, Resident Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations Indianapolis
Informations, indictments, and criminal complaints are only a charge and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.