A Jacksonville, Texas man has been convicted of federal sex trafficking violations in the Eastern District of Texas. Desnique Deshawn Herndon, 27, was found guilty of six counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. Herndon recruited teenage girls through social media, deceived them with promises of wealth, and exploited them in the Tyler area. He posted explicit photos of the girls on sex trafficking websites and offered commercial sex acts. Some of his victims were as young as 13 years old. Herndon used co-conspirators to continue his operation while he was in jail, profiting off his victims. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Cherokee County Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking Teens in Tyler Area
Introduction to the case
In a disturbing case of sex trafficking in the Tyler area, a man from Cherokee County has been convicted on federal charges. The perpetrator, Desnique Deshawn Herndon, 27, was found guilty of six counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. Herndon’s conviction follows a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker. The prosecution presented evidence that Herndon engaged in trafficking multiple teenage girls for commercial sex acts, using social media to recruit them and making false promises of riches.
Conviction and charges
Desnique Deshawn Herndon was convicted on federal sex trafficking charges in the Eastern District of Texas. The charges against him included six counts of sex trafficking of children and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. A jury found Herndon guilty of all counts after a thorough five-day trial. The verdict is a significant step toward justice for the victims of this heinous crime.
Details of the crimes
Herndon employed various methods to traffic teenage girls for commercial sexual exploitation. He used social media platforms to recruit vulnerable young girls, deceiving them with promises of wealth and opportunity. Once he gained their trust, he placed them in hotels located in the Tyler area. Disturbingly, Herndon then advertised the girls’ services on sex trafficking websites, posting explicit photos to lure customers. Some of his victims were as young as 13 years old, highlighting the predatory nature of his crimes.
Co-conspirators’ guilty pleas
Several individuals were involved in Herndon’s sex trafficking operation. Three of his co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty for their roles in these crimes. Malcolm Kadeem Roberts, 27, of Tyler, pleaded guilty on October 4, 2022, to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. Roberts also faces pending charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child in Smith County. Patrick Lamont Cross, Jr., 27, of Palestine, Texas, pleaded guilty on August 22, 2022, to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. Tavarus D. Watkins, 27, of Jacksonville, Texas, pleaded guilty on August 9, 2022, to interstate transport of a minor for illegal sexual activity.
Herndon faces a maximum sentence of life in federal prison under the federal statutes governing sex trafficking. The court will determine the length of his sentence based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. The severity of the crimes committed and the impact on the victims will likely weigh heavily in the court’s decision. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office is completed.
Project Safe Childhood initiative
The prosecution of Desnique Deshawn Herndon falls under the umbrella of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in 2006. This initiative aims to combat the increasing problem of child sexual exploitation and abuse. It brings together resources from federal, state, and local agencies to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children through the internet. Project Safe Childhood also focuses on identifying and rescuing victims of these crimes.
Multiple agencies collaborated in the investigation of this case. Homeland Security Investigations’ Tyler Resident Agency, the FBI Tyler Resident Agency, the Texas DPS Criminal Investigations Division, the Texas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit, the Tyler Police Department, the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville Police Department, and the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab all played crucial roles in uncovering the extent of the sex trafficking operation.
The legal team responsible for prosecuting Desnique Deshawn Herndon consisted of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan Locker and Alan Jackson, along with Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Jiral. Their dedication to seeking justice and holding the perpetrator accountable is commendable.
Sex trafficking is a grave issue that affects communities across the United States. The conviction of Desnique Deshawn Herndon serves as a reminder of the importance of raising awareness about these crimes and working together to combat them. To learn more about efforts to address child sexual exploitation and abuse, visit the website for Project Safe Childhood at www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
If you have any information or concerns related to this case or other cases of sex trafficking, please reach out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas or the investigating agencies involved. Your assistance could be vital in protecting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Texas
To contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas, please use the following information:
- [Phone]: [Phone number]
- [Email]: [Email address]
- [Postal address]: [Postal address]
If you have information or concerns related to this case or other instances of sex trafficking, please contact one of the investigating agencies:
- Homeland Security Investigations’ Tyler Resident Agency
- FBI Tyler Resident Agency
- Texas DPS Criminal Investigations Division
- Texas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Unit
- Tyler Police Department
- Henderson County Sheriff’s Office
- Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office
- Jacksonville Police Department
- Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab
These agencies are committed to protecting victims and ending the cycle of sex trafficking in our communities. Your report could make a difference.
In conclusion, the conviction of Desnique Deshawn Herndon on federal sex trafficking charges is a critical step towards justice for the victims involved in this case. It underscores the severity of these crimes and the importance of collaborative efforts in investigating and prosecuting sex trafficking operations. Through initiatives like Project Safe Childhood and the dedicated work of investigating agencies and prosecutors, strides are being made to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse throughout the country. It is our collective responsibility to raise awareness, report suspicious activities, and support victims in their recovery. Together, we can create a safer future for our communities.