A Charlotte, North Carolina, man involved in sex trafficking minors in Myrtle Beach was sentenced to 30 years in prison, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray.
U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. Thursday also ordered Zerrell Ross Fuentes to serve a lifetime under court supervision after he is released from prison.
Fuentes, his wife Brianna Wright, and his mother, Tanya Marie Fuentes, sex trafficked three minor victims between April 28, 2016, and May 8, 2016, according to court documents and this week’s sentencing hearing.
While he was in jail on state charges, Zerrell Fuentes conceived a scheme to involve three underage girls in prostitution so they could earn money for his bond, court records show.
Officials said he arranged for his wife to take the victims from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach so they could engage in “commercial sex acts” while on the Grand Strand.
Wright, accompanied by Tanya Fuentes, drove the three minors from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach, according to court records.
While in Myrtle Beach, the release said, Tanya Fuentes paid for lodging. Brianna Wright drove the minors to meet clients so the victims could commit sex acts for money, and her phone was used to post prostitution advertisements for the minor victims on the internet.
While in Myrtle Beach, at least two minor victims committed sex acts.
“Zerrell Fuentes, his wife, and his mother ran a depraved family business engaged in the sex trafficking of young girls for profit,” Murray said in the release. “Children are not commodities to be advertised and traded for the financial benefit of wicked adults. The protection of helpless and impressionable minors should be an adult’s priority. Anyone who violates the trust of children for their financial gain deserves to spend three decades behind bars, if not longer, where they can no longer destroy young lives.”
Zerrell Fuentes is currently in federal custody, and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility, the release stated. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
On Aug. 26, Wright and Tanya Fuentes were sentenced to 10 years and 24 months in prison, respectively, for their involvement in the case.
In the announcement, Murray praised agents and officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department — who are members of the FBI’s Human Trafficking Task Force — for their investigation. He also thanked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the agency's assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimlani Ford prosecuted the case.