On September 3, 2020, Miguel Scott Arnold, age 33, was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his role as leader of a human trafficking operation. Four other co-defendants were charged in the indictment and pled guilty to similar charges for their involvement in the sex trafficking operation. Tevin Bynoe, age 27, pled guilty to sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion on September 20, 2018, and is awaiting sentencing. Terrence Hawkins, age 26, pled guilty to sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion on September 20, 2018, and is awaiting sentencing. Joshua Guity-Nunez, age 31, pled guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on July 10, 2020. Finally, Emonie Murphy, age 23, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion on August 27, 2018, and was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment on September 3, 2020.
Authorities said that the sex trafficking operation began in 2015 and continued until August 2016. The sex trafficking operation exploited over 20 victims. Three of the victims were reportedly minors, with one child victim as young as 14. Arnold and his co-conspirators trafficked victims using common trafficker tactics such as fraud, threats, physical assault, and drug dependency to prevent victims from exiting and seeking assistance. The victims were reportedly targeted and recruited based on their age, their financial situation, or their addiction to drugs. Arnold and his co-conspirators rented hotel rooms and advertised their victims using Backpage.com, a website the FBI shut down after reports revealed the site was commonly used by traffickers to advertise victims for sex.
It is important to note that under federal law, prosecutors do not need to prove force, fraud, or coercion when the sex trafficking victim is a minor. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1591 it is illegal to knowingly recruit, entice, harbor, transport, provide, obtain, or maintain a minor (defined as someone under 18 years of age) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that the victim is a minor and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.
The CSE Institute applauds the Middle District of Pennsylvania for securing a significant sentence against Arnold. We also commend the Middle District of Pennsylvania for the successful convictions of Arnold’s four co-conspirators. We encourage law enforcement involved in this investigation to continue identifying all possible actors who profited or benefitted from the sexual exploitation of these victims such as sex buyers, whose demand for sex encourages the continuation of sex trafficking operations.