(STL.News) – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging De’Angelo Johnson, a/k/a Cowboy, a/k/a D, age 31, of Maryland, with sex trafficking and distribution of heroin and cocaine. The indictment was returned on October 22, 2019.
The federal indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department; and Chief Lisa D. Myers of the Howard County Police Department; and Howard County State’s Attorney Rich H. Gibson, Jr.
“Sex traffickers prey on vulnerable women in order to profit by selling them for sex. These particularly cruel crimes often involve the use of violence and threats and the exploitation of victims’ drug addictions,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Through the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, local, state and federal law enforcement partners are working with non-profit organizations to help human trafficking victims and prosecute the traffickers. Together, we are determined to rescue victims and bring sex traffickers to justice.”
According to the six-count indictment, from August 2018 through May 21, 2019, Johnson was a pimp, engaging in the business of recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, advertising, and maintaining women to engage in commercial sex acts for his own financial benefit. The indictment refers to five victims, all over the age of 18 and residents of Maryland, whom Johnson allegedly caused to engage in commercial sex acts for his own financial benefit, by means of force, fraud, and coercion.
The indictment alleges that Johnson routinely took half or all of the money the victims working for him had earned through sex acts and kept it for himself. Further, the indictment alleges that all of the sex trafficking victims suffered from serious substance abuse disorders, including addictions to heroin and crack cocaine. According to the indictment, Johnson sold narcotics, including heroin and crack cocaine, to the victims, who were required to pay him with whatever money they were permitted to retain from the sex acts they had performed. Johnson also was allegedly responsible for posting advertisements of the victims on websites that marketed commercial sex workers, often not allowing the victims to see or have access to the advertisements, even when they asked. Johnson allegedly communicated with potential sex customers regarding price, location, and all other logistics, often purporting to be the victim during these communications.
If convicted, Johnson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of life in federal prison for each of five counts of sex trafficking. Johnson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for distribution of controlled substances. An initial appearance has not yet been scheduled in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Johnson remains detained on unrelated state charges.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case was investigated by law enforcement agencies who are members of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members of the Task Force include federal, state, and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_human.html. Suspected instances of human trafficking can be reported to HSI’s tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.