A St. Paul woman who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking is the final defendant in a large ring that victimized more than 100 young women across 14 states, Ramsey County prosecutors said Friday.
Suwuan D. Cross, 20, was the fifth defendant to be sentenced in the ring. She received more than nine years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to trafficking a woman and two girls.
Other defendants in the ring who pleaded guilty to sex trafficking are Thomas W. Evans, 26; Yolanda K. Foster, 28; Doris M. Keller, 39; and Ishmael J. Williams, 20.
The five were convicted as co-conspirators in the trafficking ring and received sentences totaling close to 50 years in prison.
“These defendants caused immeasurable harm to our community through their scheme to control and abuse vulnerable victims for their own financial gain,” Assistant St. Paul Police Chief Bill Martinez said in a statement.
According to criminal complaints, St. Paul police encountered the suspects while executing a rescue to help a 17-year-old girl listed on Backpage.com as “Ms. Juicy.”
Police searched the home where the girl was found and discovered numerous cellphones and prepaid debit cards that had been used to purchase ads for trafficked girls and women in several states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Georgia. Many of the ads were posted with an e-mail address belonging to Evans.
Evans and Williams managed specific victims, worked together to post ads for sex, provided “protection” and transportation for johns, and shared gift cards and profits from the ring.
Keller, Foster and Cross solicited the victims, rented rooms, provided transportation, and posted and paid for sex ads. The three also received profits.
One victim told authorities that Evans trafficked her for a month. She met with about seven johns a day, making about $400 to $500 daily that went to Evans.
The complaints list six victims in the ring — girls and women who were between the ages of 16 and 24.
Authorities have said that the ring was large and sophisticated, and likely had more victims than those listed in the charges.
“The successful prosecution of this trafficking ring draws an important line in the sand that we will not tolerate this behavior in our community,” Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement.