SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge on Monday sentenced a Chico man to 14 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and distribution of meth to a person under 21, according to the U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott.
According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial, in July and August 2017, 25-year-old Christopher Ramonaguilar Lawrence, of Chico, recruited a then 17-year-old girl to engage in prostitution for his financial benefit.
He used social media to communicate with the victim, and on two occasions, he lured the victim to Chico motel rooms where he gave the victim meth, explained the methods of his prostitution business, including how to detect and evade law enforcement, and continued to recruit the victim to work for him as a prostitute, U.S. Attorney Scott said in a news release issued Monday.
After a seven-day trial, a federal jury found Lawrence guilty on Aug. 29, 2019, Scott said.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Chico Police Department, and the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Quinn Hochhalter prosecuted the case.
“Sex trafficking can occur in any community, and it is an exploitive, abusive crime that treats human beings as mere commodities to be bought and sold,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office.
“Our agents work closely with our local, state, and federal partners to identify individuals who are trafficking minors and adults for financial gain to disrupt this activity in the communities we serve. Today, as a result of our partnership with the Chico Police Department and Butte County Sheriff’s Office, an exploiter who entrapped his victim in a cycle of abuse and addiction will pay the penalty for his crimes, and those he exploited can take another step towards healing.”
Spokeswoman for Scott, Lauren Horwood, said the case materialized as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, Click Here. Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet safety education.