Prosecutors: Woman, mother-in-law forced girls into prostitution to pay for husband's bail

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte woman and her mother-in-law were sentenced to prison after they admitted to prostituting underage girls to raise money for the woman's jailed husband.

Federal prosecutors said 26-year-old Brianna Wright was sentenced to 10-years in prison, followed by 15-years of supervised released.

Her mother-in-law, 56-year-old Tanya Fuentes, was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of supervised released.

Last year, Wright and Zerrell Fuentes signed plea agreements admitting they forced children into prostitution.

Tanya Fuentes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

Fuentes was in the Mecklenburg County Jail in May 2016 on hit-and-run, gun and drug charges. He needed money to get out, so prosecutors said he sent three girls under 18 years old onto the streets of Myrtle Beach for prostitution.

They also said he had Wright and Tanya Fuentes drive the girls to Myrtle Beach from Charlotte.

In the plea agreement Fuentes and Wright both signed in federal court, it said the "minors' prostitution services were advertised on backpage.com in order to solicit clients in Myrtle Beach."

Officials said Tanya Fuentes paid for hotels in Myrtle Beach while Wright drove the victims "to see clients for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts for money."

Wright's phone was also used to post advertisements, according to prosecutors.

Wright's mother, Tiffany Streeter, appeared shocked and saddened in court.

She told Channel 9's Blaine Tolison that her daughter may have helped Fuentes out of love, not to hurt children.

"I just feel like she wanted somebody to love her that's all," said Streeter.

Fuentes and Wright

Fuentes set up the plan through a series of phone calls. Court documents said he called the girls in Myrtle Beach multiple times.

In one of his phone calls from jail, prosecutors said he bragged about the prostitution to a female friend, saying he had, "three little birdies going to the beach to do something for him."

At one point documents say, "Wright expressed frustration that the minors were not working hard enough, had not made enough money, and were keeping money from her."

Fuentes also reportedly talked to one of the girls about "being strong and making more money."

Prosecutors said Fuentes had a sexual relationship with one of the minors, but he denied the allegation. Attorneys on both sides said it wouldn't help his case anyway.

A sentencing date for Fuentes has not been set, but the mandatory minimum sentence for sex trafficking is 10 years in prison.

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