Beaten and Sold

Randy Ludlow, Columbus Dispatch, May 23, 2010

The conspiracy to enslave and sell women for sex began at the Matchbox, a hard-edged tavern wedged against the railroad tracks along S. Washington Street in Circleville.

Army Spc. Craig Allen Corey II was on leave back home in Chillicothe. Over beers at the Circleville bar, he talked to a pair of childhood buddies about his plan to pad his soldier’s wages. And there would be good money in it for them, too.

{snip} With some risque photos of the offerings and some explicit erotic-services listings on craigslist, Corey calculated he could pocket $150,000 a year on top of his drug-dealing income.

That night in late 2008 in Circleville marked the origin of Corey as “Pimp C.” His drinking mates–Jacob Tyler and Robert “Little Rob” Harris II–would act as enforcers to keep the women and johns in line while he played Army. The men added another hometown friend and drug dealer–Richard “Little Richy”Johnson II–to the operation and set out to stock their brothel.

The young men did most of their shopping for women–both willing and not–on the turf where they already peddled drugs: Chillicothe.

{snip}

Corey also used MySpace, YouTube and Web ads to recruit a few women from Virginia, and he imported a woman from Watertown, N.Y., where he once was stationed at Fort Drum. But most of the women–and a 16-year-old girl–came from Chillicothe and surrounding Ross County.

“I don’t think any area is immune,” said William Winter, special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which built a case against the men that sent them to prison for a combined 57 years. “A lot of the women had not traveled much and were low on the socio-economic scale. They were ripe to be exploited by someone with strong personalities like these guys.

“They would recruit these women by saying . . . ‘Come to the big city of Baltimore and bring your friends. Come party with us,’ basically. ‘We have a lot of money,'” Winter [William Winter, special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] said.

Nearly nude photos of the women soon were posted on craigslist, with rates of up to $200 an hour “for modeling, role-playing, sensual body rub, personal assistance and private dancing.” A disclaimer added: “I do not offer illegal or immoral services.”

The operation was short-lived, spanning January to April 2009, before it was busted after “Holly”–a 28-year-old Chillicothe woman–accepted $100 for her services from an undercover cop.

But during those four months, beatings, threats and drugs underlined the coercion and control in play in Millersville, an unincorporated area of populous Anne Arundel County south of Baltimore.

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Women who balked at serving sex customers or attempted to withhold cash paid by the johns would be beaten and threatened with more violence. Tyler and Harris had guns and were not shy about flashing them.

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The 16-year-old was ferried from Chillicothe by Corey and his fiancee under the pretext of partying. Then, she was forced to have sex with three men who had responded to an Internet ad from “Vanilla.” {snip}

With little money, no transportation and total reliance on their captors for food and shelter, the women had nowhere to turn.

With thousands of dollars a week coming in, the guys from Chillicothe were living large, buying electronics, clothes, jewelry and car accessories. Harris added gold teeth.

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Police also found the 16-year-old, drugs and a gun in the apartment. “Holly” was charged with prostitution. Corey was charged with human trafficking. Johnson and an 18-year-old woman from Chillicothe were charged with drug possession.

Because a minor child had been imported across state lines for prostitution, local police turned the case over to ICE, and federal agents visited Chillicothe to help build their case and track down and interview the women who had returned home.

On Sept. 29, the men were arrested on a multitude of federal charges that included sex trafficking by force, sex trafficking of a minor, interstate transportation for prostitution, drug trafficking and conspiracy.

Even after Corey was busted, he continued dealing drugs, traveling to Detroit to buy drugs that were then sold on the streets in both Maryland and Chillicothe. He also sold to an undercover officer.

{snip}

With all but Tyler facing the possibility of life in prison, the men signed plea arrangements. Corey, 23, will serve 171/2 years. Tyler, 23, and Harris, 21, each received 15-year terms. Johnson, 23, was sentenced to 10 years.

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harris

tyler

johnson

 Left to right: Robert Harris II, Jacob Tyler, Richard Johnson II 

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