You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 26, 2019

Charlotte Woman And Her Mother-In-Law Are Sentenced To Prison For Sex Trafficking Three Minors

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Brianna Leshay Wright, 26, of Charlotte, and her mother-in-law, Tanya Fuentes, 56, of Charlotte, were sentenced today for their respective roles in the sex trafficking of three minor females, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., sentenced Brianna Wright to 120 months in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release. Tanya Fuentes was ordered to serve 24 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

According to filed court documents, statements made in court, and today’s sentencing hearing, between April 28, 2016 and May 8, 2016, Zerrell Fuentes, his wife Brianna Wright, and his mother Tanya Fuentes engaged in the sex trafficking of three minor victims.  As Zerrell Fuentes previously admitted in court, while he was in jail on state charges, he recruited three underage victims, via telephone, to engage in prostitution to earn money for his bond.  Zerrell Fuentes arranged for Brianna 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. Brianna Wright drove the minors to see clients for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts for money, and her phone was used to post prostitution advertisements for the minor victims on the Internet.  While in Myrtle Beach, at least two minor victims committed sexual acts or had sexual contact.

On July 10, 2018, Zerrell Fuentes and Brianna Wright pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a minor. On July 16, 2018, Tanya Fuentes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

A sentencing date for Zerrell Fuentes has not been set. The penalty for sex trafficking 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 praised the law enforcement agents and officers from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department who are members of the FBI’s Human Trafficking Task Force for their investigation.  U.S. Attorney Murray also thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their assistance in this case.

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

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Updated August 26, 2019