Indianapolis B Josh J. Minkler, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, announced today the convictions of multiple offenders in two separate sex trafficking cases.
“Sex trafficking, particularly of children, has no place in this country,” said Minkler. “Our children should be able to grow up without being offered for sale by adults who seek to profit from their vulnerability.”
In the first case, United States v. James Young, four offenders were sentenced for their varying roles in trafficking four minors and other adults over a two-year period beginning in 2013. Young’s trafficking did not end until he was arrested in 2015. While he was on home detention and probation for promoting prostitution, Young trafficked teenagers and prostituted adults out of a motel on the Eastside of Indianapolis using online sex trafficking forums. IMPD and the FBI first focused on Young when a child was arrested for prostitution and she disclosed the ways in which Young had trafficked her. From there, investigators put together their case using social media, online sex trafficking advertisements, historical police reports, and motel records.
Young pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking of three minor girls, operating a business enterprise that prostituted adults and children, and illegal possession of a firearm. Chief Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson sentenced Young to 26 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release. Young was also ordered to pay a total of $450,000 in restitution to five victims. Defendant Raheem Simmons pleaded guilty to interstate travel and transportation in aid of racketeering activity, specifically the sex trafficking of a minor child. He was also sentenced by Magnus-Stinson to a term of two years imprisonment, three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $2000 in restitution to an identified victim. Another defendant, in a sealed case, pleaded guilty to her role in conspiring to prostitute adults and minors.
In the second case, United States v. Nahtahna Garcia Herrera, four offenders were sentenced for their roles in trafficking two identified minor children and prostituting other adults. Using two houses on the Westside of Indianapolis, Garcia-Herrera and her co-defendants trafficked children and prostituted adults in the fall of 2016. The FBI and IMPD, working together, discovered that properties known as “the building” and “the sugar shack” were places were illegal drugs were bought and sold, and that the purchase and sale of these drugs was facilitated by prostitution. More concerning, investigators found that teenage girls were being offered up online for commercial sex acts. Their investigation led to the arrest of Garcia-Herrera and her co-defendants on varying charges stemming from the criminal enterprise.
Defendant Garcia-Herrera was sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking two minor girls by Judge Tanya Walton-Pratt. Defendant Vaughn Isom pleaded guilty to interstate transportation and travel in aid of racketeering for his role in promoting prostitution and the sale of illegal narcotics. Judge Walton-Pratt sentenced him to a prison term of four years and three years of supervised release. Defendant Rhonda Badger has also pleaded guilty to the same charge as Isom and is awaiting sentencing. Finally, defendant Tyrece Jones pleaded guilty to the sex trafficking of a minor child and will be sentenced on July 27, 2018, by Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
"The exploitation of vulnerable youth is, unfortunately, a very real and growing issue in our country and one the FBI simply will not tolerate,” said Grant Mendenhall, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. “We will continue to work with our partners to identify and investigate those who engage in this predatory behavior in order to ensure the safety of our children.”
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach stated, "The physiological and physical damage borne by the victims of this horrific crime is truly unimaginable and heartbreaking and deserves the full attention of law enforcement." Because of the tremendous investigative efforts and collaborative spirit of both IMPD detectives and our federal partners, together we hope to help victims restore their dignity and a greater sense of hope and prosperity."
Minkler further stated, “Teenagers are some of our most vulnerable population. Caught between the innocence of childhood and on the brink of being an adult, we must assure that teens do not fall prey to adults with malicious intentions. The children in our community are not for sale, and forcing or coercing adults to engage in acts of prostitution is repugnant. These convictions should serve as a warning not only to sex traffickers, but also to adults trying to pay for sex acts. It is a federal crime and we will not stop seeking justice for these victims.”
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the Office’s firm commitment to prosecuting those who exploit and harm children and other vulnerable victims. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan 4.1