Leader of drug trafficking organization faces 27-30 years in prison following guilty plea to drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and money laundering
COLUMBUS – Valerio Alexander, 46, of Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 15 years in prison for human trafficking.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Marlon Miller, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio State Highway Patrol Commander Paul Pride and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the sentenced handed down by U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr.
According to court documents, a 16-year-old female was taken to Alexander’s home for the purpose of exchanging sex for drugs by co-defendant Thomasina Howard. Alexander suggested he could provide them food, shelter and drugs, in exchange for Howard and the victim engaging in prostitution for Alexander’s financial benefit.
Alexander took photographs of the child and caused the pictures to be used as advertisements for prostitution on Backpage.com. Alexander instructed the victim to stay at a Columbus apartment he provided and offered her condoms and marijuana to “calm her nerves.” The victim followed Alexander’s instructions and engaged in sexual activity for money.
Alexander pleaded guilty on January 18, 2014 to sex trafficking of children.
“The defendant caused a 16-year-old female to engage in a commercial sex act, by taking sexually suggestive photographs of her, causing those photographs to be placed in advertisements for prostitution, and instructing her how to speak to prostitution clients that called in response to the advertisement,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Hill told the court.
U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the investigation by HSI, Columbus Police and Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
U.S. Attorney Stewart also commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Heather Hill and Deborah Solove, who prosecuted the case.