Monday, May 12, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Five people pled guilty in connection to an Augusta sex trafficking ring, the Department of Justice said.
William Warren Hart, 35, of Hephzibah, Georgia, pled guilty last week for his role in a sex trafficking organization operating in Augusta in 2013.
Hart, who faces up to five years in prison for his limited role in the sex trafficking organization, pled guilty to using a facility of interstate commerce to facilitate the carrying on of a business involving prostitution.
Each of these four defendants pled guilty previously to conspiring to engage in the sex trafficking of a minor:
The charge carries a possible sentence of life imprisonment.
According to evidence, in the summer of 2013, Daniels encouraged a 16-year-old girl to leave home and begin working for Daniels as a prostitute. Daniels placed ads on Backpage.com.
Soon afterwards, Barnes, who met the victim through Daniels, encouraged the victim to begin working for Barnes in the same way, evidence shows. The two met up with Castillo, who assumed a leadership role in the operation. Castillo hired Hedrick and Barnes to prepare images and videos of the minor to be used to be used as a prostitution ad. Hart assisted Barnes in posting some of those advertisements on Backpage.com.
On August 26, 2013, the FBI received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a juvenile’s images were being posted on Backpage.com for prostitution services. Through an undercover operation conducted that same day, agents and officers with the FBI’s Computer Crime Child Exploitation (CCCX) Task Force identified and arrested Castillo, Hedrick, and Barnes, and rescued the 16-year-old victim at Castillo’s apartment.