Gang Member Sentenced for Multiple Charges
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A 25-year-old Corpus Christi resident and member of the Texas Mexican Mafia has been sentenced to federal prison on charges of sex trafficking of a child as well as firearms and drug trafficking charges, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Marcus Anthony Tunchez was convicted on charges of sex trafficking of a child after a one-day trial that occurred Dec. 14, 2017. Tunchez had previously entered a guilty plea for the drug trafficking and narcotics charges prior to trial.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos sentenced Tunchez to 151 months in prison on the charges of sex trafficking of a child. He also received 60 months for distributing methamphetamine as well as 60 months for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The sentences will run concurrently for a total 151-month-term of imprisonment. Tunchez was further ordered to serve 10 years on supervised release on each of his cases following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.
At the hearing, the court also heard testimony from a federal agent who reported that in August 2017, Tunchez attempted to rob someone. During the course of the robbery, Tunchez pointed a firearm at the victim’s head and fired a round that narrowly missed him. The victim was able flee and flagged down a police officer. The agent also testified that Tunchez used a social media application to advertise methamphetamine and used several local hotels to prostitute women and distribute methamphetamine.
During trial, U.S. District Judge heard about a joint investigation targeting gang members in the Corpus Christi area involved in narcotics trafficking and the sex trafficking of children. Tunchez was one of those identified as a member of the Mexican Mafia gang involved in both methamphetamine distribution and sex trafficking.
In May 2017, Tunchez began selling methamphetamine to an undercover officer and said he acted as a pimp to several young women. Tunchez explained he created and posted advertisements on a commercial sex website for the young women who then gave half the proceeds from their commercial sex acts to Tunchez. During the investigation, authorities also learned Tunchez was a convicted felon and discovered a social media posting of a video depicting Tunchez firing a pistol at a gun range in Corpus Christi.
In September 2017, Tunchez met with the undercover officer for the purpose of sex trafficking a child he believed was a 14-year-old girl. Tunchez expected to meet the child and transport her to a hotel where she would engage in a commercial sex act. Tunchez expected to receive 20 percent of the proceeds. He was taken into custody upon his arrival at the designated meeting place.
At trial, he attempted to convince the court that he intended to rob the undercover officer and not commit a sex trafficking crime. Judge Ramos did not believe his claims and found him guilty as charged.
Tunchez was arrested on federal charges in September 2017 and has been in custody since that time where he will remain pending his transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Corpus Christi Police Department - Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez is prosecuting the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."