On Wednesday, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office charged two St. Paul brothers and their uncles in connection with a two-year, multi-community sex trafficking operation that involved several victims throughout Minnesota.
The operation spanned from September 2010 to July 2012, and St. Paul Police arrested the following defendants Monday morning:
- Otis Deno Washington, 29, who is charged with one count of first-degree sex trafficking, two counts of second-degree sex trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 77.5 years imprisonment and a potential $210,000 fine.
- Antonio Dion Washington-Davis, 27, who is charged with one count of first-degree sex trafficking, second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 60.5 years imprisonment and a potential $150,000 fine.
- Calvin Roy Washington, 49, who is charged with one count of second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 37.5 years imprisonment and a potential $90,000 fine.
- Robert James Washington, 56, who is charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12.5 years imprisonment and a potential $30,000 fine.
Prosecutors have also charged the mother of Antonio Washington-Davis's children, 25-year-old Elizabeth Ann Alexander, with one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking.
According to the criminal complaint, the brothers used eight different e-mail addresses to place hundreds of ads on adult websites to carry out the scheme. They used 30 different phone numbers and over 100 credit cards associated with the online ads.
Antonio Washington-Davis, identified by victims as "Red," and his brother Otis, also known as "Dino," allegedly prevented victims from contacting their families and brought them to remote locations, sometimes as far away as Ely.
One victim told investigators the brothers often sought out victims who were mentally vulnerable to recruit them into prostitution.
"All of the defendants are part of an evil conspiracy to enslave women and girls for their own financial gain," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. "The defendants' actions have caused unimaginable horror and harm to the victims as well as to our community over a considerable period of time."
St. Paul police began investigating the family after a woman e-mailed police to say her 15-year-old granddaughter had been targeted at a St. Paul home where "a number of women were being sold for sex."
The girl had been at a friend's home when that friend, a 19-year-old woman, invited her to come along and "smoke" with a couple of men, later identified as Otis and Antonio Washington.
The criminal complaints state that two were picked up by the Washington brothers and driven to their uncle's home, located at 620 Hawthorne Ave. E in St. Paul. Once they arrived, they were taken to the basement where they were told they would be prostituted.
The teen told police that there were several other young women in the basement, and they could be heard talking to men about the ads that had been posted.
While at the home, the teen reported that she was kept in the basement until Otis Washington took one of the women to meet men who had called, and he also took the teen and her friend along to two homes -- one in Minneapolis and another in Inver Grove Heights.
Eventually, the teen told police that Otis Washington made sexual advances toward her and her 19-year-old friend got confrontational about the attention. The teen then took Otis Washington's phone and called police.
After that incident, police began investigating the family -- and said Otis Washington moved suddenly to Hawaii. In April of this year, investigators learned he may have returned. He and his brother were arrested in Brooklyn Park on April 8. Robert and Calvin Washington were also arrested on that date at the home in St. Paul where the teen had been taken. Elizabeth Alexander turned herself in to authorities.
Police investigators said the brothers would drive the victims to meet the men responding to the ads, taking them to and from homes and motels in the metro area as well as having them walk the streets in the University Avenue area.
The Washington brothers were already known to police, who arrested them in several past cases -- including a case in January 2008 where a sting found a 17-year-old being prostituted from an apartment where the brothers and Elizabeth Alexander were living.
One 24-year-old victim told police that she had been threatened, beaten and strangled and sexually assaulted by Antonio Washington-Davis, who arranged for men to have sex with her and then kept all the money for himself. She said he often collaborated with his uncle Calvin Washington, known as "Ice Mike."
That victim told police she was forced to have sex with an average of five or six men per night, sometimes as many as 20.