Trial begins for Dallas man accused of human trafficking in Smith County

Trial began for a Dallas man accused of human trafficking on Wednesday.
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 2:46 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 30, 2023 at 6:29 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Trial began for a Dallas man accused of human trafficking on Wednesday.

Korwin Jerard Jones, 34, also known as De’Vonta BMT, was accused of participating in human trafficking in April 2020 after a Texas Ranger contacted an investigator in Smith County with information about a sex worker Jones was allegedly managing. The ranger said he suspected Jones of facilitating sex trafficking and said he may live in Tyler.

During the trial on Wednesday, the state called a detective from Plano, Joe Clagett, as a witness. Clagett has worked in intelligence since 2018 and said he focuses on narcotics, gambling and prostitution. He became involved in this case in March of 2020 when a ranger notified him about it and he began researching related websites. Clagett said he found an ad with a subject that appeared young on a listcrawler website, and he had an officer set up a “date” with her.

Clagett said the woman chose a motel as the meeting location, and he ran surveillance from outside, where he saw her get into a car and leave. The officer he was working with said the woman changed the location to a different motel, but regardless, Clagett said, agreement to commit sexual acts for payment is a crime in Texas, whether the acts take place or not.

The officers identified Carly Sofia Loughmiller, 22, of Hawkins, as the woman who made the arrangement, Clagett said. Loughmiller is also charged with assisting in the trafficking of a minor, but she herself was not underage at the time, according to Clagett.

A Texas Ranger obtained Loughmiller’s cellphone, which Clagett said had valuable information. He said a pimp usually handles communication with potential clients, texting as though they are the sex worker.

The officers arrested Loughmiller for other outstanding warrants at that time but didn’t file a prostitution case. Clagett said if a person is under 17, it is generally presumed they are being coerced.

The defense then spoke, pointing out Clagett assumed Loughmiller was a juvenile, but she was not. The defense claimed the officers found meth in her possession.

The state argued a majority of sex workers have drugs on them and use fake names.

The defense then asked if the witness believes money is generally split between a sex worker and pimp, claiming there would be no financial incentive for a sex worker to cooperate with a pimp if they could act on their own.

As the next witness, the state called Tyler Police Detective Moore to the stand. The focus of questioning turned to another girl believed to have been underage while allegedly working for Jones. Moore worked together with a second Tyler police detective to investigate her case previously, and the state asked how he was able to locate her.

Moore said he ran her name through different systems and found her, then set up a meeting with her attorney. She was already facing charges at that time.

The state asked about her home life, and Moore described her background as unstable. He said she was being raised by a single parent and that it is not unusual for victims of trafficking to come from unstable homes.

Speaking about the degree of confidence he puts in her testimony, Moore claimed there were no “red flags” in the girl’s interviews. He said he determines whether someone is telling him the truth based on their consistency over multiple conversations. Moore said people tend to change demeanor and shift facial expressions if they are not telling the truth, and she never did. He did say some things took time for her to speak about, which is also common when interviewing girls who have been exploited.

The state noted the interview process is different if a child has been sexually abused by family members than it is for those abused by someone outside the family. In domestic cases, the minor would be interviewed by someone who is not an officer and has been specially trained to work with children. In contrast, in this case, Police Detective Moore conducted his first interview with the alleged victim in February 2021. It was noted that she turned 17 while in jail. Moore said he has interviewed several victims, and it is common in a case like this to have many fragmentary pieces. He described sexual abuse as a quiet crime, where neither the victims nor others involved are willing to talk, which leads to incidents often going unreported.

The topic then shifted to how individuals tend to be pulled into sex work. Moore said there are two main styles for pimps: a “romeo” or “casanova” style where the pimp woos the victim and begins as a boyfriend, or a “guerilla” style where the pimp would control a victim with beatings and threats of force. He said Jones was allegedly acting as a “romeo” pimp, recruiting constantly by approaching girls or women on social media, using their profiles to learn about their interests, places they frequent, habits they have and topics they care about. He would then allegedly reach out to them and begin conversations.

Moore said he started investigating the case but then handed it over to the second detective due to caseload. The detective who took over the case has asked not to be named, as he is still undercover, but Moore said when the detective took over, he moved from a position with the Tyler Police to the Smith County Sheriff’s Office in order to better focus on the investigation. He said that COVID interfered with the process at that time as well, causing the case to switch hands often.

Next, the defense addressed Moore, asking if it’s uncommon for women to get their nails and hair done. Moore said it’s not, but whether a “boyfriend” would pay for it is case by case. Moore said he was aware the alleged victim had a criminal history, but said he couldn’t recall if he knew the charges were related to trafficking minors. He said he hasn’t found any money, and the defense pointed out traffickers often entice girls with money, raising the expectation that funds should have been seen.

The defense also asked if Moore knew whether the alleged victim had used multiple names, and he said he did not, but the detective who took over the case might know, as he is now the lead investigator. Moore confirmed that he had seen photos of tattoos on the girl from websites where exploitative posts had been found. He said he did not know anything more about her parents, only that she had been working at a fast food restaurant.

More to the point, the defense pressed Moore to say whether there was any evidence that Jones had caused trauma by inducing the victims into certain behavior with drugs. Moore said he didn’t know how to answer that question since many factors come into play, and he took issue with the word “induce.” The defense wanted a yes or no answer, but Moore said he could not give one. Both the defense and prosecution approached the judge multiple times about how the question should be handled. The defense claimed Moore was refusing to answer and asked twice for his testimony to be withdrawn before passing the witness back to the state.

The state established that Moore had been an officer for 17 years before asking if it was common for drugs to be provided to victims in situations like these. Moore responded that the presence of drugs would not make a person any less of a victim. The defense again moved to strike his testimony, but the request was denied.

Moore said he was an assistant in the investigation of this case when the girl was 15 and allegations were first made. He said drugs make no difference in the exploitation of a minor.

Returning to the idea of a “romeo” pimp, the state asked if someone would enter into this lifestyle because of chemical dependence, in order to enable an addiction to drugs, and Moore said he has seen such cases. The state asked if he has ever seen women enter into prostitution willingly, and the detective said there are always other factors — rape, drugs or violent crime. It was asked whether it even matters how a person enters this lifestyle, if they are under 18.

The defense next brought out a report for trafficking that listed Moore as the lead investigator, but he said he didn’t recall it. The report described two minors that the alleged victim was accused of pimping. Moore again stated that he and the second detective worked together for a time, and when he left, the other continued the case.

There were also trafficking charges filed against a man nicknamed “Pig” who the defense said was the boyfriend of the alleged victim. Moore stated he didn’t know if a case was ongoing for “Pig” or what happened in relation to the minors on the report. He also didn’t know if any deals had been reached in the alleged victim’s case, claiming that type of information would be with the DA.

Testimony for the day ended there, with trial set to continue on Thursday.