MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Police say a man forced a 16-year-old into prostitution and was selling her for sex on a known sex trade website.
Brandon Deshun Jones, 35, was booked in the Shelby County Jail Thursday on charges of trafficking for a commercial sex act, domestic assault, and resisting official detention.
Investigators said in late June, they received a call from a woman who claimed her teenage niece was being trafficked for sex and that lewd pictures of her had been posted online.
The teenage girl said Jones took pictures of her, rented hotel rooms, set up dates where money was exchanged, and forced her to perform sexual acts. The young victim said when she told Jones she did not want to prostitute herself, he beat her.
Police said when they replied to an ad Jones placed on the sex website, they got a number for a room at the Airways Inn in the 2300 block of Airways. They said the motel manager told them Jones rented the room, and they found evidence in the room of a commercial sex trafficking operation.
Rachel Haaga is the Executive Director of Restore Corps, which is an organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking in the Mid-South. Haaga says they have received more than 120 referrals for teens involved in sex trafficking this year.
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“That’s exceptionally normative to how we see human trafficking looking in our community,” Haaga said. “There are systemic situations in a lot of neighborhoods that create an increased vulnerability to being approached by a trafficker to not having near as much of a support system.”
Haaga says traffickers will often isolate their victims. Therefore, she says it’s important that family members and friends of victims speak up and contact authorities if they suspect sex trafficking is taking place.
“There has to be some measure of that survivor recognizing that they have support available to them in order to be able to speak up,” she said.
In 2017, Brandon Jones was also sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated assault.
He is scheduled to go before a judge on the new charges on Friday.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
If you want to help survivors of trafficking, Restore Corps is hosting its second annual Free 901 5k race on November 11 on Beale Street and B.B. King’s Boulevard. It’s a family-friendly event uniting members to walk or run against exploitation.