CHICAGO –(ENEWSPF)—December 10, 2013. A federal jury today convicted a Bolingbrook man of running a sex trafficking ring between at least late 2009 and November 2010 that forced into prostitution at least four victims, including a minor who was 17 at the time. The defendant, McKENZIE CARSON, was found guilty on one count of sex trafficking a minor by force, fraud, and coercion, and three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. The jury deliberated less than two hours following a trial that began Dec. 2 in U.S. District Court.
All four victims testified in the trial, which showed that Carson, 41, also known as “Casino” and “Joe Taylor,” was a pimp who chose vulnerable, young victims, including the minor who he knew was only 17, and used violence and threats of violence to exploit them sexually.
“This was not a business relationship, but a relationship between predator and prey,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bethany Biesenthal said in her closing argument. In her rebuttal argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Levin told jurors “the victims bared their souls and told you they were frightened for their lives.”
Carson has remained in federal custody without bond since he was arrested on Jan. 3, 2012. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment on each count. No sentencing date was immediately set but U.S. District Judge Elaine Bucklo scheduled a status hearing for May 2, 2014.
The evidence showed that Carson recruited his victims and forced them to engage in commercial sex acts. He used fraud to recruit and groom his victims, sometimes concealing that he was a pimp, and used drugs to control them. He frequently provided them with heroin and exercised control over how much and when each victim was allowed to use drugs.
Carson also used threats and physical beatings to enforce rules that left him with a control over his victims. When they broke the rules or disobeyed him, he threatened them or beat them, or raped them. He required his victims to commit commercial sex acts and to give him the money they made. The evidence included numerous photographs of Carson’s victims that he used to solicit their services on the Internet, as well as the advertisements that he posted to promote his prostitution business.
The guilty verdict was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of investigation. FBI special agents led a multi-agency task force that included the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group, and the Alsip, Bolingbrook, Channahon, Downers Grove, Joliet, Lansing, Marseilles, Naperville, Oswego, Romeoville, Shorewood, and Westmont police departments. The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennie Levin and Bethany Biesenthal.