The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced on March 22, 2019, that Jordan Capone, age 24, of Mt. Pocono, entered a guilty plea to participation in a sex trafficking conspiracy, and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance before Judge Malachy E. Mannion. According to case documents, Capone was originally indicted on possession with intent to distribute heroin, “molly” (MDMA), marijuana, cocaine, and Percocet; and, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force and coercion. She faces a maximum combined penalty of life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. According to the Pocono Record, Judge Mannion ordered a pre-sentence investigation to determine Capone’s sentence at a later date.
This guilty plea follows an indictment of eleven others by a federal grand jury, as a result of an investigation by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigators from the Pennsylvania State Police, Maine State Police, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, and local police in Monroe County.
Capone admitted to being affiliated with the Black P. Stones, a Chicago gang founded in the late 1950’s. According to the fourth superseding indictment, the defendant and her co-conspirators allegedly “sexed” women into the gang by forcing females to engage in sex with gang members as well as recruited women to engage in sex acts for compensation in the area of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania and Maine. Additionally, Capone and her co-conspirators allegedly took and uploaded photos of the women to Backpage.com, a now shuttered, online advertising website notorious for facilitating sex trafficking. They allegedly rented hotel and motel rooms for the purpose of having the women engage in commercial sex acts with sex buyers. According to the Department of Justice, “the [women] were threatened, physically assaulted, and provided drugs, including heroin, by members of the conspiracy to persuade them to engage or continue to engage in commercial sex acts. Virtually all of the money earned by the women was turned over to the gang leaders, and the [women] were compensated with illegal drugs.”
The CSE Institute applauds the collaborative effort of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania State Police, Maine State Police, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, and Monroe County Police Department in this investigation directed towards eradicating sex trafficking. Additionally, we would encourage authorities to focus on pursuing sex buyers who fuel the commercial sex industry. Simply, as long as there is demand from the sex buyers, traffickers will find a way to exploit others to make a profit.
The CSE Institute requests the government to seek further information regarding Capone’s role in the conspiracy before imposing the sentence. Capone may be acting in a “bottom girl” capacity. As such, Capone may be a victim of the psychological controls employed by traffickers that can turn a one of their victims into an active participant in recruiting others into prostitution. Thus, according to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge should consider and weigh a number of factors: the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. The CSE Institute hopes the government will inquire into Capone’s capacity within the gang, and the need to punish a possible victim of commercial sexual exploitation who was psychologically controlled by her traffickers.
Finally, the CSE Institute hopes that by focusing on traffickers who profit from commercial sexual exploitation, local authorities can further incorporate the Nordic Model into their policing practices.
All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or Villanova University.