BEAUMONT, Texas —
Three people have been indicted in connection with human trafficking of a 12-year-old girl in Beaumont.
Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham and Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary announced that a Jefferson County Grand Jury returned indictments in the case Thursday, April 25. The charges stem from a joint investigation that involved the Beaumont Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, Officer Haley Morrow said in a news release.
Toni Davis, 25, and Arthur Gilder, 23, both of Beaumont, were arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree felony of trafficking of persons.
The investigation also showed Andre Tucker, 24, of Beaumont, allegedly engaged in sexual acts with the child in exchange for money after seeing an ad of her online according to the release.
Beaumont Police officers received a tip about a 12-year-old runaway from the Southeast Texas area on January 30 near Walden Road and Fannett Road according to the release.
Officers received ‘credible information’ from several witnesses at this location, leading them to believe the child was currently being trafficked according to the release. The information received indicated the activity was happening at Days Inn at 2155 11th Street in Beaumont according to a probable cause affidavit.
Detectives from the Beaumont Police Department Narcotics Unit, Special Crimes Division and the Special Assignment Unit, as well as agents from Homeland Security Investigations responded to the scene according to the release.
Detectives located an online ad that offered sex with the child in exchange for money according to the release.
Detectives made contact with the unknown individual and set up a ‘date’ for the child at a local motel, where a sting operation was conducted and the child was rescued according to the release. She was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital for medical treatment and forensic medical exam according to the release.
Police said Davis and Gilder allegedly took the child to the motel for the ‘date’ and were arrested. The investigation later revealed dozens of ads had been posted online of the child, and phone numbers and email addresses associated with the ads belonged to Davis and Gilder according to the release.
The investigation led detectives to execute a search warrant at Tucker’s residence on January 31, where he was arrested for the first-degree felony of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Tucker confessed to detectives he had engaged in sexual activity with the child according to the release. A number of other unknown ‘johns’ also purchased the child for sex, according to the release.
Davis was indicted on two cases of trafficking of persons and one case of attempted trafficking of persons. Beaumont Police said Davis could face 5 to 99 years or life in prison for the trafficking of persons of cases and 2 to 20 years in prison for the attempted trafficking of persons case.
Gilder was indicted for two cases of trafficking of persons and may face 5-99 years or life in prison according to the release. Tucker was indicted for two cases of aggravated sexual assault of a child and may face up to 5-99 years or life in prison according to the release.
The Texas Penal Code § 20A.02 states that someone can be charged with trafficking of persons if they knowingly traffic a child and cause a child to engage in or become the victim of prostitution, aggravated sexual assault or other sexual offenses, whether or not the person knows the age of the child. Trafficking means to transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide or otherwise obtain a person by any means.
The investigation is still ongoing, and detectives believe other suspects and victims may still be identified.
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This is a developing story. 12News will update with more if and when we receive confirmed information.
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