JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Three Jackson residents previously arrested following an investigation into a missing child have since pleaded guilty to human trafficking.
Edward Deshawn Williams, 29, and Christopher Griffin, 30, pleaded guilty Friday, and 27-year-old Charmaine Turner pleaded guilty Tuesday for their roles in a human trafficking operation, said U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Michelle Sutphin with the FBI in Mississippi.
“Criminals who do such evil things to children for money will be pursued, caught and punished with all the resources that this office and the U.S. Department of Justice and our partners can bring to bear," said U.S. Attorney Hurst. “We are redoubling our efforts in this area and intend to do whatever it takes to eliminate this heinous crime from our communities.”
“People, especially children, are not a commodity to be bought and sold, and those who traffic humans for any purpose will be pursued by the FBI and our partners,” added SAC Sutphin.
Williams pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking a minor and one count of advertisement and promoting prostitution via the Internet. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Griffin pleaded guilty to one count of advertisement and promoting prostitution via the Internet.
Turner pleaded guilty to two counts of advertisement and promoting prostitution. She faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
In April 2019, officials began investigating advertisements and posting of advertisements on the Internet promoting commercial sex acts with younger-looking females in and around Jackson. The investigation led to the arrest of Williams, Turner and Griffin for promoting prostitution of a 15-year-old runaway female engaging in the commercial sex acts with men for money.
Williams knew the teen would be engaged in commercial sex acts with men for money from the ads posted via the Internet. Williams rented rooms at local hotels for the minor in Jackson for days at a time and kept most, if not all, of the money earned by the minor from the sex acts. Griffin introduced the minor victim to Williams, who in turn took the 15-year old to Turner for work in the commercial sex trafficking trade.
The defendants will be sentenced on April 10.