HOUSTON -- A Houston man was arrested Thursday after a three-year investigation into allegations that he recruited young girls from other states to work as prostitutes in Texas.
Barry Lernard Davis, aka Sir Lewis, is charged with sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and coercion and enticement of yet another female to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution, United States Attorney Tim Johnson and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced Thursday. The three-count indictment was returned under seal by a Houston grand jury on July 8, 2009, and unsealed Thursday following Davis' arrest.
Davis, 33, of Houston, was taken into custody by FBI agents without incident Thursday morning in Houston. When he appears in court, federal prosecutors will ask the judge to temporarily detain Davis without bond pending a hearing on the government's motion to detain him until trial.
"This defendant is charged with trafficking a teenage girl across multiple states, where she was forced into prostitution," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. "Today's arrest reflects a concerted effort between multiple law enforcement organizations to crack down on an egregious case of human trafficking and child exploitation."
According to allegations in the indictment, Davis knowingly recruited and enticed a minor in 2006 and then transported the minor from Texas to Louisiana with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution.
The coercion and enticement charge accuses Davis of enticing and coercing another female to travel from Texas to New Jersey, New York, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana and Washington, D.C. to engage in prostitution.
The investigation leading to the charges was initiated in September 2006 by the Pasadena Independent School District Police Department and the FBI after the minor - a high school student - got off of her school bus and disappeared. The investigation continued with the assistance of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Davis faces not less than 10 years and up to a life term of incarceration, a $250,000 fine and registration as a sex offender if convicted of the sex trafficking of children or transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity charges. A conviction on the coercion and enticement charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
The indictment also seeks to forfeit Davis' interest in a 2002 Mercedez Benz, a laptop computer, various flashdrives, photographs and other paperwork alleging these items constitute property either traceable to the gross proceeds of the criminal activity or promoted the illegal activity alleged in Indictment.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit projectsafechildhood.gov.