Smith County jury finds Dallas man guilty in sex trafficking case

The trial of a man accused of human trafficking in Smith County continued Friday with witness and investigator testimonies.
Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 1:04 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2023 at 4:31 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Smith County jury has found a Dallas man accused of human trafficking in Smith County guilty.

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 prostitution and said he may live in Tyler. On Wednesday, Jones’ trial began in the Smith County Courthouse.

Thursday’s continuation consisted of many witness and victim testimonies, all relating to the sex trafficking operation allegedly run by Jones, known by his victims as BMT, reportedly standing for “Big Money Team.” One alleged victim was a woman who claimed to have started her relationship with Jones at the age of 15.

On Friday, the alleged underaged victim continued her testimony with defense questioning. She said that Jones would drive her to locations for sex work, but she was taking ecstasy at the time, so her memories of exact details were cloudy. The witness said she left home at 15 due to a difficult life and divorced parents. She said she chose to connect with Jones because she wanted to feel protected, and at the time she thought the work would bring her the safety she needed. When showed emails under names similar to her own, the witness said she did not recognize them.

The state took the witness, and said it was possible that Jones had created emails under her name to get her in trouble. The witness said she worked for Jones from 2019 to 2021, and was incarcerated on Sept. 10, 2021. During her incarceration, the witness turned 17, an investigator said on Wednesday. The state emphasized that she was a child while involved in the sex trafficking. The witness said she could not recall where all the money went, though she knew almost all of the money she made went to Jones.

The state then called an undercover investigator as a witness. Due to the secretive nature of his work, this witness requested he not be named in reporting. The investigator assisted another undercover detective who testified on day one of the trial. According to the witness, Jones’ name came up when investigating the West Side Rollin 60′s Crips. The witness said he followed Jones’ social media, and saw he posted his car wash, flaunted his money, and made references to sex work.

The witness helped to serve the arrest warrant for Jones, which was executed at the defendant’s car wash on Hwy 155. Jones was then interviewed at the Smith County Sheriff’s Office. The witness said Jones cooperated with questioning, but was untruthful. Jones claimed to not the know the underaged witness, the investigator said, but later admitted to knowing her, and attempted to make a deal in exchange for information.

The defense then questioned the investigator, who said that he did not verify that Jones was involved with the Crips. The defense then argued that Jones may have been flaunting his lifestyle due to his involvement in the music industry. The witness said he did not check Jones’ bank accounts.

The state took back the witness, who said he’s investigated many gang members who falsely claim to be musical artists. He went on to say that investigators don’t take the suspect’s word on these claims, and always continue with their interviews.

The state brought the day one investigator back to the stand for continued testimony. This investigator works for the Smith County DA’s office, and in 2020, he was assigned to the case. Jones was one of the suspects named in the Crips investigation, under his BMT alias, the witness said. Among the other names listed was the alleged underaged victim.

The investigator said he made the 2021 arrest of the alleged victim, identifying her by her tattoos. She was found to possess the elements of a person being sex trafficked, the witness said. At this point, the investigator said, the investigation shifted from the alleged victim to Jones once it was found that they were likely connected.

The investigator said that once probably cause was established to connect him with the witness and the Crips gang, he was arrested and interviewed. Video was shown in court of Jones’ questioning. In this video, Jones denied knowing the alleged victim upon viewing a photo of her. He’s also heard denying participating in sex trafficking. According to the investigator, Jones admitted to knowing the alleged victim once the camera was shut off.

4:35 p.m. update:

The investigator’s testimony continued with questioning by the state. He said that two cellphones were seized from Jones and were searched with a warrant. A warrant was necessary as Jones did not consent to a search. Evidence from the phone was shown, including a social media screenshot containing a link to a prostitution website, as well as sexual pictures of the alleged underaged victim.

A video was also shown appearing to show Jones touching the girl inappropriately. More video was shown of Jones and the underaged girl together. This evidence, the investigator said, equated to possession of child pornography and indecency with a child, as the alleged victim would have been younger than 17 at the time.

According to the detective, gangs often use their platform and reputation to intimidate people. After searching the phone, the investigator said he began to track down other witnesses.

The defense then took the witness. The investigator said he was aware the alleged underaged victim had lied to officers about her age and was incarcerated for it. The defense asked if the witness had spoken to the alleged victim’s parents, and he said he had not. He confirmed that he had never personally witnessed Jones harboring the girl, and had only seen video evidence. The defense then argued that the investigator was relying on information from others for his conclusion.

The investigator confirmed that he did not find any money associated with Jones, and the defense questioned how Jones could be called a pimp if a large sum of currency couldn’t be found. The defense also argued that there are many acronyms for BMT around Tyler, and the tattoos on the alleged underaged victim may not be related to Jones.

The state began questioning the detective again, who said he believes there is enough evidence to believe Jones facilitated sex trafficking. He referred again to the video evidence, showing Jones identifying himself as BMT and a pimp.

The state and defense both rested around 4:15 p.m. Jones declined to testify, saying he preferred his attorney continue to represent him. The jury went into deliberation to determine a verdict.

Courtroom Video: The trial of a man accused of human trafficking in Smith County continued Friday with witness and investigator testimonies.