Friday, October 5, 2012
Texas Attorney General Prosecutor and Federal Authorities Obtain Convictions in Domestic Sex Trafficking CaseThe following news release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas on Oct. 4, 2012:
HOUSTON – The last three defendants charged in Operation Total Exposure have been convicted, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Operation Total Exposure was the single largest domestic sex trafficking case in the history of the Southern District of Texas. At least one minor was rescued during the course of the investigation and other minors and several adults have been returned to their families.
Today, John Butler, 52, Jamine Lake, 30, of Houston, and Ronnie Presley, 38, formerly of Houston, entered their guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes. All were convicted of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Butler and Lake further admitted to one count of transportation, while Presley was convicted on two of those counts. Lake and Presley were also convicted of one and two counts of coercion and enticement, respectively.
Previously, William Hornbeak, 38, Andre McDaniels, 42, and Kristen Land, 31, all of Houston, all also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge. Hornbeak also pleaded to two counts of coercion and enticement. McDaniels was convicted of one count of coercion and enticement as well as two counts of transportation.
Court records indicated that the defendants operated commercialized sex businesses often disguised as modeling studios, health spas, massage parlors and bikini bars in Houston. Further testimony proved they also utilized sexually oriented publications and websites to advertise their illicit business.
Evidence revealed the conspirators recruited women and minors as young as 16 to work as prostitutes and perform commercial sex acts. Members of the criminal enterprise transported women and minors to and from the Houston area and had ties to Kansas, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. The females were instructed to perform certain acts to insure that the customers to whom they were providing sex acts were not law enforcement officers.
The women were routinely beaten and threatened to instill fear in them and insure their obedience. Some of the co-conspirators also had sexual intercourse with the minor females. Any proceeds the women received as a result of their sexual encounters where taken by the members of the enterprise, rendering them dependent upon the defendants for basic necessities.
All defendants convicted in this case face up to five years for the conspiracy as well as a possible $250,000 fine. Coercion and enticement carries as possible punishment up to 20 years in prison, while transportation carries up to a 10-year-term of imprisonment.
McDaniels was also convicted in a separate, but related case of nine counts of witness tampering and faces up to life in prison as a result.
With the exception of Land, who remains on bond, the defendants are currently in custody and awaiting their respective sentencing dates.
The investigation leading to the charges was conducted by the Innocence Lost Task Force of the FBI and the Houston Police Department as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative. The initiative was founded in June 2003 to address criminal enterprises involved in the domestic sex trafficking of children and is a joint effort of the FBI, the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Goodwin, an assistant Texas attorney general.