Two Chicago men were arrested earlier today while a third man remains at-large, culminating a two-year joint federal/state investigation into a child prostitution ring that was centered on Chicago’s west side. The arrests were announced today by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Jody P. Weis, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), who were joined in making this announcement by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney.
DATQUNN SAWYER, age 31, of Chicago, was arrested early this morning, without incident, by FBI special agents and detectives from the CPD, Vice Control Section and Special Investigations Unit, in the 5300 block of West Potomac. SAWYER was charged in a criminal complaint filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count of sexual trafficking of minors and sexual trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, in interstate commerce, which is a felony offense.
Two other men, WAYMOND ORR, age 30, and KEVIN SHARP, age 51, both of Chicago, were also charged in connection with this investigation. Both men were charged in Cook County Circuit Court with one count each of pandering, which is a class 4 felony. SHARP was arrested this morning, without incident, while ORR remains at-large and is now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
According to the federal complaint, SAWYER is charged with having operated a child prostitution ring from his residence and his mother’s residence, both of which are located on Chicago’s west side. The complaint alleges that SAWYER ran this operation from at least March of 2009 through August of this year. During that time, he is believed to have recruited as many as nine minor females between the ages of 13 and 17 who, at SAWYER’s behest, engaged in sexual acts for money. The complaint further alleges that SAWYER would “brand” his prostitutes with a tattoo and used violence and threats of violence to enforce his rules and regulations.
SAWYER is believed to have advertised his business through the Internet, making extensive use of Craigslist and similar online media, charging anywhere from $150 to as much as $350 for sexual services. SAWYER is alleged to have kept all of the proceeds from the sexual encounters, providing his prostitutes with only minimal subsistence. SAWYER also served as a driver for his prostitutes, shuttling them from location to location for sexual encounters, which usually took place at Chicago area motels or the customer’s residence.
When not responding to online bookings, SAWYER is also alleged to have forced his prostitutes to “work the track”, a term used to refer to girls walking the streets or standing on street corners to solicit customers for sex acts for money. Numerous locations in Chicago were used for this purpose, as well as locations on or around Cicero Avenue.
According to state prosecutors, SHARP and ORR worked for SAWYER as drivers and enforcers, transporting his girls to locations on the street and monitoring their activity to ensure they were not pocketing money they earned from their sexual encounters. It is also alleged that on occasion, SHARP or ORR would chauffer SAWYER to locations around the city so he could supervise his prostitutes.
In announcing the filing of the charges announced today, States Attorney Alvarez said the arrests signal an ongoing commitment between her office and law enforcement at both the federal and state level to combat the sex trafficking of minors. Said Ms. Alvarez “These defendants are alleged to have maintained control over vulnerable girls through violence and intimidation. Through our efforts, there are at least nine girls who are no longer being forced to engage in the horrific trade of sex trafficking.”
SAWYER appeared before Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox, earlier yesterday, at which time he was formally charged. SAWYER was ordered held without bond, pending his next scheduled court appearance. If convicted of the charge filed against him, SAWYER faces a possible sentence of up to life in prison. SHARP is scheduled to appear in Central Bond Court tomorrow.
The female victims of this sex trafficking operation have been provided with counseling and related assistance by the FBI, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and private social services providers.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the federal criminal complaint filed in this case are available from the Chicago FBI’s press office at (312) 829-1199. Copies of the state criminal complaint are available from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office at (312) 603-3423.