(STL.News) – Edward Deshawn Williams, 29, and Christopher Griffin, 30, both of Jackson, pled guilty Friday, and Charmaine Turner, 27, also of Jackson, pled guilty yesterday before Chief U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III for their roles in a human trafficking operation, announced U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Special Agent in Charge Michelle Sutphin with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (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. We are redoubling our efforts in this area and intend to do whatever it takes to eliminate this heinous crime from our communities. I am extremely thankful to our prosecutors, the FBI, and our state and local law enforcement and nonprofit partners who work with us to rescue these victims and put away these criminals,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
“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,” said SAC Sutphin. “Law Enforcement Task Forces and partnerships between agencies continue to be successful in removing these types of offenders from our communities.”
Williams pled guilty to one count of sex trafficking a minor, and one count of advertisement and promoting prostitution via the Internet. Griffin pled guilty to one count of advertisement and promoting prostitution via the Internet. Turner pled guilty to two counts of advertisement and promoting prostitution.
The defendants will be sentenced by Chief Judge Jordan on April 10, 2020. Williams faces a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Griffin faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Turner faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.
In April 2019, FBI Special Agents, Hinds County Sheriff’s Office deputies, and investigators with the Mississippi Attorney General Office 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 15-year-old 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. Williams 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.
This case was investigated by the FBI, the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Glenda R. Haynes.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet as well as to identify and rescue victims