On November 21, 2012, the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa announced that Johnelle Lewis Bell of Hammonton, New Jersey, was found guilty of 12 counts related to sex trafficking and interstate prostitution.
Bell faces the following sentences for his crimes:
“Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking” (count 1) carries any sentence up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine along with five years of supervised release.
“Sex trafficking” (counts 2 and 3) carries 15 years to life in prison, a fine of $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release.
“Inclusive, coercion or enticement to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution” (counts 4 through 7) carries up to 20 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, and up to five years of supervised release.
“Conspiracy to transport in interstate commerce for prostitution” (count 8) carries up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and no more than three years of supervised release.
“Inclusive, transportation in interstate commerce for prostitution” (counts 9 through 12) carries up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, and no more than three years of supervised release.
Bell was arrested after a sting by the Great Plains Innocence Lost Task Force on June 18, 2011. An undercover agent arranged to meet after answering an advertisement for prostitution in Omaha on backpage.com. During the raid, Bell arrived with three adult female prostitutes.
During the investigation, it was found that the prostitution ring was centered in Little Rock, Arkansas. However, the prostitution ring expanded to parts of Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Tennessee.
During the trial, former prostitutes testified against Bell. Some reported that they were beaten and/or never paid, and the victims often described emotional and mental problems associated with Bell’s crimes.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation