CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte man was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his involvement in the human trafficking of 16- and 17-years-old girls.
Zerrell Fuentes, 24, admitted that he, along with his mother and wife, recruited the girls to have sex with men to pay for his bond while he was in the Mecklenburg County jail.
Zerrell Fuentes orchestrated the prostitution ring by phone and his wife, Brianna Wright, and mother, Tanya Fuentes, to drive the girls to Myrtle Beach.
Zerrell Fuentes called during their drive for updates, got them to advertise online and got upset when they weren't making enough money.
It happened between April 28, 2016, and May 8, 2016.
The recorded calls from the jail helped seal the case against Zerrell Fuentes.
"He regretted being involved in the whole incident," said Rick Winiker, defense attorney for Zerrell Fuentes.
The attorney said the girls were not kidnapped and the co-defendants, not Zerrell Fuentes, drove them around.
He asked the judge to give his client 15 to 20 years in prison.
Zerrell Fuentes apologized in court.
“I know what I did was wrong,” he said. “I know I got to pay for what I did.”
He asked for mercy.
The judge paused to review Zerrell Fuentes’ lengthy record.
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“This was calculated crime in which the defendant ran the show,” the judge said.
Fuentes could have faced life in prison if he was found guilty during a trial.
His wife was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison and his mother got five years.
The prosecutor said their investigators tried to find the young victims, but they were unsuccessful.
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