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Press Release

California Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking and Related Offenses for Forcing Victim to Engage in Commercial Sex Across the Country

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

Gulfport, Miss. – A California man was sentenced yesterday for sex trafficking, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and interstate transportation for purposes of prostitution.

Michael Deon Fulcher, 54, of Gardena, was sentenced to life in prison and a lifetime of supervised release after a jury found Fulcher guilty in January.  

“This significant sentence imposed by the court reflects the severity of the defendant’s abuse and exploitation of the victim,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This defendant traumatized the victim, robbed her of her dignity and deprived her of the choice and control essential to her personal autonomy by forcing her to engage in prostitution for his own profit. The Justice Department will vigorously prosecute human trafficking crimes to hold offenders accountable and to seek justice for survivors of these heinous crimes.”

“Human trafficking is not just a plot for Hollywood movies,” said U.S. Attorney Todd Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi. “It happens all over the country in a variety of ways, and even here in Mississippi as the tragic facts of this case show. The strength and resiliency of the victim in this case to escape the defendant and then report what happened will ensure that he never harms anyone else again. But this crime sadly still occurs all too often, and law enforcement needs your help to stop it. If you are a victim of human trafficking or believe that you may have witnessed it occurring, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.” 

“This investigation exemplifies how human trafficking is not just a physical crime but is also conducted through emotional and psychological abuse,” said Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. “Sex trafficking has devastating short term and long-term consequences, and the FBI will continue to investigate traffickers and pursue justice for the victims.”

The evidence presented at trial demonstrated that Fulcher used sexual assault, threats of violence, isolation, control, psychological manipulation and emotional abuse to compel the victim to engage in commercial sex between April and June 2020. Fulcher lured the physically injured victim into his car in Las Vegas by making false promises to help her, but then brought her to his home where he sexually assaulted her.  

Shortly afterwards, Fulcher brought the victim to California, where he acted in concert with a co-defendant, Jonzie Hamilton, to compel the victim to engage in commercial sex acts over the course of several weeks. Fulcher required the victim to follow his strict rules, threatened the victim with physical harm, confiscated her money and Social Security debit card and even had an unlicensed dentist pull out her teeth.

Fulcher also sent the victim and Hamilton across the country for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex, stopping in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana and eventually Mississippi where the victim ran away. While the victim was on the road, Fulcher required the victim to send him all of her earnings and continued his coercive scheme by threatening the victim with physical harm, controlling her access to her phone, isolating her from anyone she knew and refusing to allow her to receive much-needed medical treatment for an existing chronic illness.

Hamilton was previously sentenced on April 9 to 29 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to interstate transportation for prostitution.

The FBI Jackson Field Office, Gulfport Resident Agency investigated the case.

Trial Attorneys Kate Alexander and Francisco Zornosa of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit prosecuted the case, with the assistance of Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Jones for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report that information to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about human trafficking, please visit Information on the Justice Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at

Updated May 1, 2024

Human Trafficking