United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill
Middle District of Florida
Tampa Orlando Jacksonville Ocala Fort Myers

Thursday, February 17, 2011
PHONE: (813) 274-6388


Townsend forcibly removed her personal property (including her passport, cell phone, and laptop computer) from her belongings at the residence of Townsend’s brother in

Thomasville, North Carolina as a means of preventing her from leaving. Investigators
actually recovered the woman’s hidden passport from inside a stereo speaker at the
brother’s residence. Evidence also included a Myspace message to one of the victims in
which Townsend acknowledged that the victim would be beaten for not making “her
number,” a reference to a nightly quota of $1,000.00. Townsend transported the women
from Norfolk,Virginia,toThomasville, North Carolina, Atlanta, Georgia, Kingsland, Georgia,
and Jacksonville, Florida. Townsend and the women were in Jacksonville from September
9, 2009, until September 16, 2009. Townsend caused the women to engage in commercial
sex acts from an abandoned apartment on Edenfield Road and also from the locations of
customers, including local homes and hotels. On September 16, 2009, the Canadian
woman was apprehended by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office as part of an undercover
prostitution sting. At that time, the woman became hysterical and advised officers about
what had happened to her. The investigation into Townsend’s sex trafficking activities then
commenced. Investigators amassed a large amount of evidence including hotel records,
phone records, bank records, and 28 internet ads in which Townsend advertised the
victim’s availability for commercial sex acts. Investigators also seized a Garmin GPS from


Townsend’s vehicle and were able to establish locations of various customers in Jacksonville from the data contained in the Garmin.

In commenting on the prosecution: U.S. Attorney O’Neill said, “We are committed to prosecuting those who seek to
harm and exploit persons by fraud, violence, or force. Sex trafficking is a serious offense
and must be treated as such. This case represents a major step towards restoring the
victims of these terrible crimes.”
Special Agent in Charge James Casey, FBI, stated, “Sex trafficking takes place
outside public view, but as we’ve seen in this case, it is nothing less than modern-day
slavery. We at the FBI will continue to work hard with our law enforcement partners and
prosecutors to expose these activities and bring the offenders to justice.”
“The conviction of Tyrone Townsend is good news. The issue of human trafficking
remains an important focus for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. I applaud the work of our
Special Investigations Unit, as they continue to dig beyond the seemingly “typical”
prostitution activity we see, and develop these human trafficking cases,” said Jacksonville,
FL Sheriff John Rutherford. “As always, our partnership with the US Attorney and the FBI
ensures that these heinous crimes come to light and those exploiting others are brought
to justice in the federal system. I am also proud of the work of the JSO as we participate
with the local task force and work to educate the public on the issue of human trafficking.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. It was
prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mac D. Heavener, III.

Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that a federal jury
on February 16, 2011, found Tyrone Townsend (age 45, of New York City) guilty of sex
trafficking by force, threats of force and fraud; transporting women across state lines for
prostitution; enticing, inducing and coercing a woman to travel across state lines for
prostitution; and conspiracy to transport a woman across state lines for prostitution.
Townsend faces minimum mandatory sentences of 30 years and a maximum penalty of
two consecutive life sentences plus 35 years in federal prison for his crimes. His
sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 6, 2011. Townsend was indicted on April 20,
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, Townsend met the first
victim, an eighteen-year-old runaway, in April 2009 after she traveled by Greyhound bus
to New York City. He met the second victim, a Canadian citizen, after she responded to
an internet advertisement and met up with Townsend and the first victiminNorfolk, Virginia.
Both victims testified that Townsend beat them (including beating one victim with a belt)
and sexually assaulted them as a means of causing them to engage in commercial sex


acts. Both victims testified that Townsend required them to call him “Daddy,” and that

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