Men accused of human trafficking; 1 charged with kidnapping woman as he hid from police

Two Pierce County men accused of trying to force a 17-year-old girl into prostitution have been charged with human trafficking and other crimes.

One pleaded not guilty at arraignment Wednesday to first-degree human trafficking, promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor and commercial sex abuse of a minor. In a separate case, he’s charged with first-degree kidnapping and first-degree burglary.

The court set the 31-year-old’s bail at $700,000 in the kidnapping case and $500,000 in the human trafficking case.

Prosecutors charged the other suspect, 38, with promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of first-degree human trafficking. Lakewood police, who investigated the case, said he’s in custody in Mason County on another matter.

Charging papers give this account of what happened:

The 38-year-old tried to talk the teenager into prostitution, handcuffed her and put her in his trunk a few days after they met in August or September.

Another time he took her phone, “pulled out his gun and told her she would be doing this willingly,” and the 31-year-old had sex with the teenager, the declaration for determination of probable cause said. Then the 38-year-old said “she needed to choose him as her pimp and leave her current boyfriend,” and raped her, the probable cause statement said. A spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office said the case is still being investigated, and that it’s possible there will be additional charges.

The 38-year-old took the girl to his home, where he gave another woman a gun and told her not to let the teenager leave. The 31-year-old also arrived, told the girl that there would be consequences if she left and gave her drugs that made her sleep.

The girl’s boyfriend ultimately found her and took her away.

The 38-year-old’s second human trafficking charge is for also allegedly tried to force a 28-year-old woman into prostitution who he offered a place to stay. He gave her drugs, beat her, raped her and told her that he’d shoot her if she tried to leave. He also tried to get her to find other prostitutes for him.

In a separate case, the 31-year-old allegedly kidnapped a woman in 2019 as he hid from police. Tacoma police responded to a domestic violence call in December 2019 that involved him. Then they got a 911 call about a burglary in the apartment next door.

The woman who called about the burglary told police she woke up to find the man standing over her. He said he’d leave when the police were gone and that he’d give her $400 if she stayed quiet.

When she tried to leave he grabbed her and put his hand over her nose and mouth, held her down and held a pocket knife by her face.

As police searched the apartment next door, he told her he was addicted to methamphetamine and that officers were looking for him because of a domestic violence order. He left when the police were gone.

This story was originally published on The News Tribune.