Authorities have arrested a brother and sister from Iowa City and another man from Toledo, Ohio for their allegedly taking three young girls from Eastern Iowa for the purposes of sex trafficking.
Arrested were Malik McKee, 20 and his sister Shuntina McKee, 23, of Iowa City but formerly hailing from Illinois, were arrested on Monday. Another man, Willie Woods, 41, of Toledo, was arrested in Toledo on Friday.
The trio of defendants face charges of transporting minors accross state lines for the purposes of prostitution, a federal offense.
Vanessa Miller of the Gazette reports:
All three defendants face charges of conspiracy to transport minors across state lines to engage in prostitution, and the federal government is seeking to have all three transferred back to Chicago to face charges there.
According to a detailed criminal complaint, the defendants used coercion, force and the threat of force to make the three victims – ages 14, 16 and 16 – engage in commercial sex acts.
The investigation began on April 25 after a Cedar Rapids woman called police to report her 14-year-old daughter was missing and believed to be in Chicago. The woman said her daughter had called earlier that morning to report she was being held against her will in a Chicago hotel.
Miller writes that when the 14-year-old snuck out of the hotel room where they were staying and called her mother this led to the investigation that ended in the arrests.
Eric Page of KWWL writes that three defendants are accused of actively advertising the availability of the girls for prostitution.
Investigators say that online advertisements were posted on various Internet sites in Chicago and elsewhere promoting the prostitution of the three girls, ages 14, 16 and 16.
They say that Malik McKee and Woods allegedly purchased bus tickets for the victims and transported them from Iowa City to Chicago in April to engage in prostitution. They believe all three defendants benefited financially from the conspiracy.
If convicted of sex-trafficking of minors, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.