Federal authorities in El Paso, Texas have filed additional charges against 10 people from Baltimore being held in a trafficking case involving The Block and strip clubs across the country. Prosecutors are calling the case a "forced prostitution" scheme.
The alleged leader, Alarcon Allen "Tha Don" Wiggins, 43, and nine other city residents had been charged with transporting for the purpose of prostitution. A superseding indictment unsealed on Thursday charges the defendants with conspiracy to commit human trafficking and sex trafficking by force.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Texas alleges the group leaders called themselves concert promoters to allegedly lure women into their group and then force them to dance at strip clubs, including at The Block, and to be prostitutes. One of the bars mentioned in the indictment is Chez Joey on East Baltimore Street, shown above in the picture by The Sun's Gene Sweeney Jr.
Prosecutors said the group had strict rules, confiscated the women's cell phones and identification cards, and set minimums for pay, all of which were taken by the leaders. Rules, prosecutors said, "prohibited any communication by the victims and personal interaction with anyone outside the group without the defendants permission."
On Sunday, The Sun published a long article on the case and interviewed one of the women involved. The story documents how several women escaped, helped others to get out and then helped the FBI. All 10 suspects were arrested at a single family house off Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.
Here is a statement from federal prosecutors on the case:
EL PASO FEDERAL GRAND JURY RETURNS SUPERSEDING INDICTMENT IN BALTIMORE BASED FEDERAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING INVESTIGATION
United States Attorney Robert Pitman and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Mark Morgan announced that ten individuals, including the C.E.O. of 424 Records, 1 Team 1 Family Entertainment, DBD TV and DBD Productions in Baltimore, Maryland, face additional charges in connection with a forced prostitution scheme based in El Paso and Baltimore.
Alarcon Allen Wiggins (aka “Alarcon Tha Don”), age 43, and nine other Baltimore residents are charged in a superseding indictment returned late yesterday afternoon for their roles in a human trafficking/forced prostitution operation. The other defendants include: 20-year-old DeAngelo Perry Smith (aka “D-Lo”); 23-year-old Deyonta Thompson (aka “Wezz Fresh”); 18-year-old Marc Corey Williams (aka “DJ Yung Rock,” “J-Rock”); 28-year-old Martes Milton Jackson (aka “Tuesday”); 25-year-old Shelby Nicole Smith (aka “Bebe”); 30-year-old Roxanne Michelle Mitchell (aka “Nakira,” “Foxy,” “Roxy,” “Mama,” “Cherish”); 26-year-old Amanda Gayle Darbonne (aka “Kristale,” “Kristal”); 24-year-old Holly N. Reemer (aka “Amira”); and, 22-yearold Brandi L. Minnich (aka “Natasha”).
The superseding indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to commit human trafficking; conspiracy to transport for prostitution; conspiracy to coerce and entice for prostitution; benefitting financially from forced labor; and, three counts of sex trafficking induced by force, fraud or coercion. Wiggins, Smith, Thompson, Williams and Jackson also face three counts of forced labor. Wiggins is also charged with two counts of concealing, removing or confiscating identification documents; Thompson and Smith, one count of concealing, removing or confiscating identification documents.
The superseding indictment alleges that defendants Wiggins, Smith, Thompson, Williams and Jackson–all self-proclaimed recording artists–used their ties to the music industry to recruit young women then force them to work as strippers and prostitutes.
Furthermore, the indictment charges that defendants Smith, Mitchell, Darbonne, Reemer and Minnich allegedly trained the recruited women to work as strippers and prostitutes, then enforced the organization’s rules including preventing the victims from fleeing or seeking help. The indictment alleges that the defendants confiscated all means of communication from the victims, namely cell phones and laptop computers; confiscated all identification documents from victims; prohibited any communication by the victims and personal interaction with anyone outside the group without the defendants’ permission or in their presence; and, collected all victims’ earnings for the benefit of the defendants.
The superseding indictment also charges that since January 2009, the defendants, aided and abetted by one another and under the direction of Wiggins, knowingly transported individuals in interstate commerce, as well as enticed individuals to travel in interstate commerce, to El Paso and other locations, to engage in prostitution.
“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. The FBI is committed to rigorously investigating these types of criminal violations in an effort to maintain safety throughout the El Paso community,” stated Mark Morgan, FBI Special Agent in Charge, El Paso Division.
The indictment also contains a notice of criminal forfeiture whereby the government is seeking to forfeit $1 million dollars, which represent proceeds allegedly derived from the criminal activity.
Upon conviction, each defendant faces: a minimum of 15 years and up to life in federal prison per count for conspiracy to commit human trafficking and sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; up to 20 years in federal prison for conspiracy to coerce or entice for prostitution; and, up to five years in federal prison for conspiracy to transport for prostitution.
Also, Wiggins, Smith, Thompson, Williams and Jackson face up to 20 years in federal prison upon conviction for each forced labor count. Thompson, Smith and Wiggins are subject to a maximum five years in federal prison for each concealing, removing or confiscating identification documents charge.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Baltimore Police Department S.W.A.T. team assisted in making the arrests. Assistant United States Attorney J. Brandy Gardes and Daniel Crumby are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
As a note, the Western District of Texas has been selected as the site of one of six Pilot Federal Anti-Trafficking Coordination Teams (ACTeams).
The ACTeam Initiative, adopted jointly by Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, brings together federal agents from FBI, ICE-HSI, DOL Wage and Hour Division, and DOL OIG, and federal prosecutors in United States Attorneys