Men admit forcing teen girls to have sex with up to 10 customers a day
A tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a 14-year-old runaway from South Jersey was being used in an ad for a website promoting prostitutes led to the arrest of three men on human trafficking charges.
All three pleaded guilty to human trafficking charges Monday.
Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said the prostitution ring operated at several Hudson County hotels.
Michael A. McLeod, 25, of Jersey City, the "boss" of the prostitution ring, would bring a 14-year-old girl and 18-year-old woman to hotels and force them to have sex with up to 10 customers a day, Lougy said in a statement from his office.
"McLeod once held a gun to the head of the 18-year-old and threatened to kill her," the statement said. "Other times, he beat and kicked her."
McLeod took all the money from the prostitution, the statement said.
According to authorities, an undercover detective from the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force called the number in the ad and met the two females at an a hotel in Seacaucus in April of 2015. The 18-year-old was assigned to keep track of the 14-year-old, who offered the detective sex for money, the Attorney General's Office said. Officers then entered the motel room and took custody of both teenagers, it said.
Investigators determined McLeod was the pimp or boss of the operation. David Powell Jr., 29, of Jersey City and Demetrius James Hayward, 20, of Summerville — both of whom pleaded guilty Monday — and another man, Tyree D. Jeter, 28, of Jersey City, would control the girls when McLeod wasn't around, the Attorney General's Office said.
"Powell would act as a 'body guard' for the girls, waiting outside while they were with customers," it said. "Hayward transported the girls between hotels. Hayward and Powell also brought food to the girls or took them out to eat, because McLeod did not let them have any money."
McLeod gave Hayward and Powell – and allegedly Jeter – a small percentage of the money, but kept most of it for himself, the OAG said.
“This case starkly illustrates how human traffickers separate their victims from any benevolent support and trap them in a wretched life of sexual slavery. McLeod was a brutal bully who controlled his teenage victims with fear and violence. We have put him behind bars where he can’t harm any other vulnerable young women," Lougy said in the statement.
The three who pleaded guilty will be sentenced on May 13.
The charges an Oct. 9, 2015 indictment against the group pending against Jeter. Jeter allegedly would rent hotel rooms in his name and share them with the girls, waiting outside as security while they were working, the OAG said.