Charlotte Man Sentenced To More Than 15 Years In Prison For Sex Trafficking Of A Minor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Today, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr. sentenced Tony Lee Drum, 32, of Charlotte, to 188 months in prison for two counts of sex trafficking of minors and two counts of transporting minors across states lines for purposes of prostitution, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Cogburn also sentenced Drum to a lifetime of supervised release upon completion of his prison term.
Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas and Chief Kerr Putney, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) join Acting U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and statements made in court, between August 2013 and October 2013, Drum knowingly recruited, enticed, and harbored two minor females, identified in court documents as “D.W.” and “A.C.,” for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts. Court records show that Drum met D.W. on a telephone chat service and A.C. on social media, and he knew both girls were minors. On two occasions, court records indicate that Drum drove across state lines to pick up the minors and transport them to Charlotte to engage in prostitution. According to court documents, an alert CMPD officer encountered D.W. while patrolling an area in Charlotte in September, 2013, and later identified her as a missing teen. Law enforcement found A.C. sleeping in Drum’s car in October, 2013, while serving an arrest warrant on Drum for trafficking D.W.
“Drum preyed upon young, vulnerable victims, and with the promise of food, shelter and security, he lured them to Charlotte with the intention of exploiting them for his financial benefit. Fortunately, a well-trained law enforcement officer observed one of the victims and the immediate circumstance and as a result, two young women were rescued from a life on the streets. My office is committed to prosecuting sex trafficking cases and continuing to work with our law enforcement partners to identify those who engage in this illegal, dehumanizing business,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rose.
“Unfortunately, child predators have become increasingly adept at using social media and other modern communication tools to identify and manipulate their victims,” said Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin, ICE Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta. “Whenever HSI and our law enforcement partners encounter children for sale, we won’t rest until we’ve identified and arrested the predators seeking to pimp them out and have rescued their victims from a life of exploitation and abuse.”
Drum will remain in federal custody until he is transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation of the case was handled by the HSI and CMPD. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimlani Ford, of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.