November 26, 2014

Jackson Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking by Force

A Jackson man was convicted by a federal jury in Ann Arbor yesterday of sex trafficking several women and one minor victim, using force and coercion, announced U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Office.

The two-week trial was conducted before U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara in Ann Arbor. Devin Smith, 29, faces a minimum of 15 years in federal prison at his sentencing on March 11, 2015.

According to the evidence presented at trial, Smith used physical violence, fear and crack cocaine to maintain control over his victims. Smith moved his victims around various hotels in southeastern Michigan. The victims attempted to flee from these hotels. On one occasion, a victim called 911 from a dumpster in Livonia. On another occasion, a different victim flagged down a Southfield police officer. One of the victims was 16 years old when she was prostituted and beaten by Smith. The minor was rescued by the FBI during an annual initiative, known as Operation Cross Country, in July 2013.

“This defendant used his victims as commodities, forcing them to engage in sex acts with strangers for money multiple times a day,” McQuade said. “He coerced compliance with his demands with beatings, threats and drugs. We hope that cases like this one will raise awareness that sex traffickers are exploiting victims in hotels and truck stops in our communities.”

“The perpetrator in this case used physical violence, fear, and coercion to further the sexual exploitation of his victims,” stated Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “This type of criminal conduct is horrific and intolerable. Our investigation in this case through the Southeastern Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force, in conjunction with our local, state, and federal partners, demonstrates that combating sex trafficking and violence in our communities is of the highest priority for the FBI.”

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Southeastern Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force (SEMCAC). The Southfield Police Department, Livonia Police Department, Jackson Police Department, and Jackson County Sheriff’s Office all provided crucial assistance in the investigation.