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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Sex Trafficker Of Three Underage Girls Is Sentenced To 30 Years

His Wife and Mother Were Previously Sentenced to Prison in Connection with the Case

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Zerrell Ross Fuentes, 24, of Charlotte, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking three minor females, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. In addition to the prison term imposed, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. ordered Fuentes to serve a lifetime under court supervision after he is released from prison.

According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, between April 28, 2016 and May 8, 2016, Fuentes, his wife, Brianna Wright, and his mother, Tanya Marie Fuentes, engaged in the sex trafficking of three minor victims.  Court records show that, while he was in jail on state charges, Zerrell Fuentes devised a scheme to involve three underage girls in prostitution so that they could earn money for his bond.  Zerrell Fuentes arranged for his wife to transport the minor victims from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts while they were in Myrtle Beach.

According to court records, Wright, accompanied by Zerrell Fuentes’ mother, 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 meet 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.

“Zerrell Fuentes, his wife, and his mother ran a depraved family business engaged in the sex trafficking of young girls for profit,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “Children are not commodities to be advertised and traded for the financial benefit of wicked adults. The protection of helpless and impressionable minors should be an adult’s priority. Anyone who violates the trust of children for their financial gain deserves to spend three decades behind bars, if not longer, where they can no longer destroy young lives.”

Zerrell Fuentes is currently in federal custody. He will be 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.

On August 26, 2019, Wright was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Tanya Fuentes was ordered to serve 24 months in prison, for their involvement in the case.

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Murray commended 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.  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, prosecuted the case. 

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Updated November 14, 2019