New federal charges have been filed against 10 people from Maryland who are being held in a sex-trafficking case that allegedly was centered in Baltimore and Western Texas, said prosecutors, who are calling the case a "forced prostitution" scheme.
The superseding indictment made public Thursday alleges that five of the defendants "used their ties to the music industry to recruit young women, then force them to work as strippers and prostitutes," according to the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Texas. A federal grand jury in El Paso returned the new indictment.
The alleged leader, Alarcon Allen Wiggins, 43, and nine other Baltimore residents had previously been charged with transporting women for the purpose of prostitution. Now the defendants have also been charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking and three counts of sex trafficking by force, among other charges.
The other group leaders, prosecutors said, include DeAngelo Perry Smith, 20, Deyonta Thompson, 23, Marc Corey Williams, 18, Martes Milton Jackson, 28, Shelby Nicole Smith, 25, Roxanne Michelle Mitchell, 30, Amanda Gayle Darbonne, 26, Holly N. Reemer, 24, and Brandi L. Minnich, 22.
The male defendants called themselves concert promoters to lure women into their group and then force them to dance at strip clubs and to work as prostitutes, the U.S. attorney's office said.
Chez Joey on East Baltimore Street is one of the bars mentioned in the indictment, which also alleges that prostitution took place in El Paso and cities between Maryland and Texas.
The group confiscated the women's cellphones and identification, prosecutors said. They also set the prostitution rates and took all of the money paid to their victims, they said.
Strict rules enforced by the female defendants, prosecutors said, "prohibited any communication by the victims and personal interaction with anyone outside the group without the defendants' permission."
Several women escaped the trafficking ring and then helped others to get out, according to one of the victims who spoke to The Baltimore Sun. The escapees then helped the FBI.
All 10 suspects were arrested at a single-family house off Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.
If convicted, the defendants could receive a minimum of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to commit human trafficking and each of the three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, prosecutors said, in addition to potential sentences for each of the other counts.
"This indictment represents the culmination of hard work done by federal, state and local agents in El Paso, Texas, and Baltimore, Maryland. Human traffickers often target innocent victims seeking a better lifestyle for themselves or their families," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan. "The FBI is committed to rigorously investigating these types of criminal violations."
In 2007, Baltimore's federal prosecutors formed the Human Trafficking Task Force to reduce the number of women who were being transported across state lines for prostitution. More than two dozen cases have been prosecuted since the task force was formed.