GALVESTON, Texas – Three women and nine men face allegations of conspiracy and sex trafficking of children. The arrests come in a joint effort between local and federal authorities.
Joseph Church, 31, and Angela Marks, 23, both of Sweeney; Jamaal Crane, 25, of Angleton; Norris Moon, 23, and Christopher Walton, 23, both of Brazoria; Ronnie Beasley, 19, of Rosharon; and William Franklin, 18, of Wharton.
They are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen William Smith at 2 p.m. today along with Jamier Coleman, 20, and Lurkesha Baugh, 35, both of Wharton, who were previously in state custody on unrelated charges.
Alisa Kimber, 24, of Freeport, was already in federal custody on earlier similar charges. Authorities arrested Stephanie Walker, 35, of Houston, in Beaumont yesterday, while the final defendant – Eric Page, 19 – was taken into custody on unrelated charges on Wednesday in Sherman. They are expected to appear in Galveston in the near future.
With the exception of Walker and Kimbler who were indicted for using an interstate facility to promote sex trafficking of children, all are charged with conspiracy to traffic children for the purpose of commercialized sex, sex trafficking of children and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Church and Marks are also charged with production of child pornography. Moon and Walton have an additional charge of carrying a firearm while engaging in the crime of sex trafficking of minors.
The defendants allegedly employed sexually-oriented websites to advertise their illicit business employing four minors as young as 16 for commercial sex. The charges allege the young girls were induced into posing for pictures used in online advertisements for sex and engaged in commercial sex acts for money. The defendants collected all of the money the girls earned, according to the indictment. In one particular online advertisement, the defendants allegedly photographed an adult prostitute performing oral sex on a 16-year-old runaway victim whom the defendants also prostituted.
Those charged in the sex trafficking conspiracy face up to life in prison, if convicted. Moon and Walton face the same penalty for the firearms offense. Walker and Kimbler face a penalty of up to five years in prison for using an interstate facility to promote sex trafficking of children, while Church and Marks also face an additional possible 30 years in prison for the child pornography charge, upon conviction. All charges carry up to a $250,000 fine.