SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport man and woman lured a teenager from Texas then forced her to prostitute herself at local hotels.
If the girl resisted, the man struck and otherwise abused her. He also took the money she got from the prostitution.
Now that man and woman have been sentenced to decades in prison.
U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. has ordered 37-year-old Tyrone Larry Smith to serve 32 years and 34-year-old Lacoya Washington to serve 20 years, according to the sentence announced Jan. 11.
Each was convicted July 27 of 1 count of sex trafficking of a minor. Smith also was found guilty of 1 count of coercing or enticing a minor to travel to engage in prostitution.
Evidence presented during the pair's 3-day trial shows that Smith, saying he had feelings for the 14-year-old, persuaded her to travel to Shreveport after conversing with her on an Internet dating service in 2015, according to U.S. Attorney Stephanie A. Finley's office.
Upon arriving in Shreveport, the girl met Smith and Washington and stayed at their home. That same month, they began taking her to local hotels.
After completing their prison term, Smith and Washington also must serve 5 years on federal supervised release and must register as sex offenders.
"We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to keep the children of our community safe by prosecuting those who engage in this despicable trade," Finley says in a written statement. "Human trafficking exploits the most vulnerable among us."
The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys James G. Cowles Jr. and Earl M. Campbell.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
Human trafficking takes many forms but generally targets children who who have suffered past abuse, people with physical or mental disabilities, the poor and those without legal immigration status.
To learn more about human trafficking and U.S. Justice Department efforts to combat it, click here.
Help for those who fall victim to human trafficking is available on Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime website.
To report suspected human trafficking, connect with anti-trafficking services in your area or find anti-trafficking resources, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by:
Calling toll-free at (888) 373-7888,
Sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or
Tips also can be left with the FBI by visiting this website or calling the agency's Shreveport office at (318) 861-1890. Tips may be submitted anonymously.
This case was part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. You can learn more about the program by clicking here.