Man charged in sex trafficking scheme

Published 7:44 am Tuesday, September 27, 2016

HELENA, Mont. — A man lured two women into a Montana-based sex trafficking scheme, and had just recruited three teenage girls from the Midwest before he was arrested, authorities said.

Terrance Tyrell Edwards has been charged with sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. He made his initial appearance in federal court on Monday, but did not enter a plea.

His federal public defender, Steven Babcock, did not immediately return a call for comment.

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Edwards met the first woman through a social networking website earlier this month, according to a sworn statement by Missoula police detective Guy Baker. The affidavit did not identify the woman or her hometown, but authorities in Lake County and with the Montana Department of Justice previously identified her as a 22-year-old from Polson.

The woman traveled to Missoula, thinking she and Edwards were going to start dating. Instead, he bought red lingerie, took pictures of her in the lingerie for advertisements to be posted on the internet and told her he planned to make money with her, Baker said in the statement.

As the woman had sex with men for money in Montana and in Salt Lake City, Edwards went to Washington state to pick up a second woman who was brought into the operation, Baker said.

At one point, Edwards struck one of the women in the face for looking at a man who was not a customer, and he then required her to check in with him every two hours, Baker said. He had that same woman drive him last Monday to a court hearing for him to be released from probation for a prior prostitution conviction, the detective wrote in the statement.

In 2012, Edwards was given a five-year suspended sentence for forcing his then-girlfriend into prostitution.

The day after the court hearing, Edwards traveled to Fargo, North Dakota, and picked up three girls age 15, 16 and 17, two from North Dakota and one from Minnesota. One of the girls did not know the purpose of the trip, Baker wrote.

When Edwards left the state, one of the women he left behind contacted authorities with a cellphone Edwards apparently gave her for customer calls, Baker said.

Police arrested Edwards early Wednesday outside a Billings hotel. The three girls were returned to North Dakota, Baker said.