Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Human Trafficking Conviction



Defendant Aaron Vaughn
 
On June 4th, 2018, patrol officers with the San Bernardino Police Department responded to the area  known for a high volume of prostitution activity in the City of San Bernardino for a report of a young female possibly engaging in prostitution. Upon arrival, officers located the 17-year-old victim, Jane Doe, who was a runaway from the Oakland area.  The San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force responded and assumed the investigation.  During the interview with Jane Doe, it was found that she came to San Bernardino to work as a prostitute with two males, Defendant Victor Wilkins and Defendant Aaron Vaughn, as well as an adult female, Victim 2. Task force members responded to a local motel and attempted to make contact with the two males. Officers forced entry into Defendant Wilkins motel room due to Wilkins barricading himself in his room and refusing to open the door. Officers located Defendant Vaughn without incident in another room at the same motel. It was found that both defendants had prior convictions relating to pimping and human trafficking. Vaughn was found to actively be on federal parole for Sex Trafficking of Children and had just been released from prison in February 2018.


Defendant Victor Wilkins
During the course of the investigation, it was found that Wilkins had met the minor victim through social media. After exchanging messages online for a period of time,  Defendant Wilkins picked up Jane Doe and Victim 2 on International Blvd in the City of Oakland, which is an area known for a high volume of prostitution activity.  He took both females to work as prostitutes in the City of San Francisco. They returned to the Oakland area to meet with Wilkins friend and “Pimp Partner,” Defendant Vaughn.  At that point, Victim 2  began working as a prostitute for Vaughn.  The defendants then drove the victims to the Los Angeles area where both girls worked as prostitutes.  After two days, the defendants drove the victims to San Bernardino where they were sent out to the street to work as prostitutes again.

During an analysis of the digital data from the defendant’s cell phones and social media, it was found that Wilkins and Vaughn were heavily involved in the “pimping” lifestyle. It was also determined that both Defendants were involved in pimping, pandering, and the human trafficking of multiple victims. Defendant Wilkins was found connected to Victim 3 and Victim 4, both adult females, whom he had previously transported to San Bernardino for the purposes of the victim to engage in prostitution.
The defendants were charged with human trafficking, pimping and pandering of a minor as to Jane Doe as well as pimping and pandering of Victim 2. Defendant Wilkins was also charged with attempted pimping and pandering of Victims 3 and 4.
At trial, the minor victim, Jane Doe, was the only victim of the four who appeared and testified against the defendants. Defendant Wilkins testified on his own behalf claiming he was a “rap artist” and not a pimp. The jury deliberated for approximately 6 hours and returned verdicts of guilt on all 12 counts and Vaughn’s prior human trafficking conviction allegation to be true.

 
Great job to Deputy District Attorney Cassie Helmuth of our West Valley Division! 
Thank you for your hard work!