Orange County Gang Members Charged with Sex Trafficking of a Minor
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 25, 2014|
ORLANDO—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that on April 23, 2014, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Xavier Francisco Villanueva, a/k/a “X”; Keith E. Romby II, a/k/a “P” and “PJ”; Jose Carmona, a/k/a “Hood”; and Ashley Nicole Barnett, a/k/a “Snow,” with the sex trafficking of a minor. If convicted, each faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years, up to life in prison.
The indictment alleges that from on or about January 17, 2013, to on or about January 25, 2013, the above-named individuals conspired to engage a minor in a commercial sex act and aided and abetted each other to engage a minor in a commercial sex act. According to court records, Villanueva and Barnett were part of the Blood street gang and gave the minor drugs and used threats of violence to coerce the minor into prostitution for their own financial gain and benefit. On January 25, 2013, the minor was able to escape and was rescued by a deputy from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, with the assistance of the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Karen Gable and Ilianys Rivera Miranda.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.