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Justice News

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

Friday, June 17, 2016

Roanoke Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking, Methamphetamine, and Gun Charges

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA – A Roanoke man, who conspired with others to distribute drugs and engage in sex-trafficking, pled guilty this afternoon, United States Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr. announced.

Brandon Scott Thomas, a.k.a. “Gambino,” age 25, of Roanoke, Virginia, pled guilty to one count of conspiring to possess with the intent to distribute at least 50 grams of methamphetamine, two counts of sex trafficking by fraud, force or coercion, one count of conspiring to commit sex trafficking by fraud, force or coercion, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime.

“These women were trapped by addiction and the violent nature of a man who preyed upon their vulnerabilities,” United States John P. Fishwick Jr. said today. “We are proud of the work law enforcement did to bring this defendant to justice and hopefully bring these victims of sex-trafficking to a brighter future.”

“Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate,” said Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations’ Washington, D.C. field office. “Traffickers have no regard for human life, and they treat their victims as commodities. In this case, Thomas sold women just like he sold drugs. Today’s guilty plea ensures justice for his victims and makes southwest Virginia a safer place with one less trafficker on the streets.”

According to evidence presented at today’s and previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorneys Donald R. Wolthuis and Laura Day Rottenborn, Thomas conspired with others from at least July 2015 until his arrest in March 2016 to distribute heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs, and he periodically possessed firearms in connection with his drug trafficking.

In addition, Thomas admitted today that he ran a prostitution business involving multiple women that operated out of hotels in Roanoke and Charlottesville.  To promote the business, Thomas posted prostitution advertisements on the website, Thomas admitted that several of the women who worked for him engaged in prostitution as a result of Thomas’ fraud, force, and/or coercion.  Thomas admitted that he prostituted women identified as V1, V3, and V4 in Roanoke and elsewhere in the Western District of Virginia, and admitted that he beat and threatened to beat the women, and took advantage of their drug dependencies, to compel their prostitution services.

Thomas admitted that beginning in September 2015 and continuing through February 2016, he was physically abusive to V4 on a regular basis. He admitted to slapping, punching, and choking her. On at least one occasion, Thomas admitted he held a knife to the throat of V4. On a separate occasion, Thomas used a taser on V4 and also beat V4 while she was pregnant.  Many of these actions took place in front of other victims.

The investigation of the case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Roanoke City Police Department, the Roanoke County Police Department, the Salem Police Department, and the Virginia State Police.  Assistant United States Attorneys Donald R. Wolthuis and Laura Day Rottenborn prosecuted the case for the United States.

Human Trafficking
Updated June 17, 2016