TRENTON, NJ -- A leader of a Trenton-based human trafficking scheme will spend a decade in state prison according to a Wednesday announcement by Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri.
Darrell Smith, 48, was initially indicted in March 2018. The case was then presented to a grand jury in January 2019 after further investigation uncovered an additional victim and evidence that other defendants were involved.
Subsequently, Smith was indicted in January 2019 after a grand jury returned a 19-count indictment charging himself and three other individuals with human trafficking, sexual assault, promoting prostitution, and other crimes. On October 10, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree human trafficking and one count of third-degree tampering with a witness before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Smith will face an aggregate of 10 years in state prison when he is sentenced on December 13.
Also indicted in relation to the crimes are Gabriel Tabor, 29, Shannon Heisler, 38, and Jennifer Willis, 34. All four suspects are residents of Trenton.
The indictment alleged that, between December 16, 2017 and December 23, 2017, while Darrell Smith was allowing a young woman to stay at his residence, he was forcing her to engage in prostitution against her will and sexually assaulting the victim. Smith was arrested in December 2017 and charged with these crimes.
Further investigation revealed that Willis was living at the house during this time and was placing sexually suggestive ads of herself and the victim on Backpage.com. Information was later developed that another young woman was living in the house from October 2017 through February 2018, and allegedly being forced into prostitution in the same manner by Smith, Willis, Tabor and Heisler. Detectives also discovered that Tabor and Willis were allegedly posting this second victim on Backpage for Smith while he was in jail.
The cases against Tabor, Heisler and Willis all remain pending.
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