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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Charlotte Man And His Wife Plead Guilty To Sex Trafficking Three Minors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Zerrell Ross Fuentes, 24, and his wife, Brianna Leshay Wright, 25, both of Charlotte, appeared in federal court today and pleaded guilty to sex trafficking three minor victims, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

According to filed plea documents and statements made in court, between April 28, 2016 and May 8, 2016, Fuentes, his wife, Brianna Wright, and his mother and indicted co-conspirator, Tanya Marie Fuentes, engaged in the sex trafficking of three minor victims.  Zerrell Fuentes admitted in court today that, while he was in jail, he recruited three underage victims, via telephone, to engage in prostitution to earn money for his bond.  Zerrell Fuentes arranged for Wright to transport the minor victims from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts.

According to court records, Brianna Wright, accompanied by Tanya Fuentes, drove the three minors from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach.  While in Myrtle Beach, Tanya Fuentes paid for lodging, and Brianna Wright’s phone was used to post prostitution advertisements for the minor victims on the Internet.  She also provided her own telephone number on the ads, as a means of communication to arrange “dates” between the minors and customers, and transported the victims to and from the arranged prostitution appointments.  

Zerrell Fuentes and Brianna Wright remain in custody. A sentencing date has not been set. Tanya Fuentes is charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to transport a minor to engage in prostitution, and transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution.  Those charges are still pending.

The penalty for sex trafficking related offenses is a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.  

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray commended the law enforcement agents and officers from Homeland Security Investigations and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department who are members of the FBI’s Human Trafficking Task Force for their investigation.  He also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their assistance in this case.

 

 Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimlani Ford, of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Charlotte, is prosecuting the case.  

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Updated July 11, 2018