LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Special Agent in Charge Diane Upchurch, of the Little Rock Field Office for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and Colonel William J. Bryant, Director of the Arkansas State Police, announced today that Amber Johnson, age 30, of Wynne, Arkansas, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for sex trafficking of children.
Johnson was indicted on July 7, 2015, for one count of sex trafficking of children, and pleaded guilty on November 3, 2015. On Wednesday, Johnson was sentenced by United States District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr., to 12 years imprisonment and five years supervised release.
"This defendant took advantage of two young relatives who trusted her," Thyer said. "These young girls turned to her in a time of need, and the defendant instead chose to satisfy her own needs by prostituting these children for money. There is no more important issue to my office than protecting the children of Arkansas, and we will continue to find and prosecute those who take advantage of children."
The charge in the indictment was based upon an investigation that began after two female minors, who were Amber Johnson’s cousins, ran away from their foster home in November 2014. They lived in various hotels, first in Jonesboro and later in North Little Rock, with Johnson and her own two young children. Johnson would leave her cousins, ages 15 and 17, in charge of her two children while she visited other locations to meet men. Johnson would give the men her phone number so they could contact her later to meet for sex.
When the male customers contacted Johnson, she would let them select which girl they wanted to have sex with: the 15-year-old, the 17-year-old, or herself. The men would come to the hotel, pick up the girl they chose, and either rent another hotel room or drive the girl to their home for sex. Johnson began by charging $20, but increased to $50 and sometimes charged $100. She told the Judge Marshall at her change of plea hearing in November that she used the money for hotel rooms, food, and "things we needed." Arkansas State Police located and arrested Johnson on April 29, 2015.
"We’re making the fight against human trafficking a priority and backing up the pledge to place all available resources on the streets and highways searching for the victims used in barter for sex and drugs," Bryant said. "In this case it is noteworthy that state troopers worked alongside civilian investigators of the Crimes Against Children Division, as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and the Arkansas Department of Human Services. It is this commitment of multi-jurisdictional forces that will be necessary to identify and arrest those individuals who would prey on the lives of minors and others who are most vulnerable."
"Forcing young children into prostitution is beyond deplorable and today’s sentencing demonstrates those that commit any form of child exploitation will pay a harsh price for their actions," Upchurch said. "We will continue to pursue and punish these offenders to the fullest extent of the law. We appreciate the unfaltering efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office, the Arkansas State Police, the Jonesboro Police Department and the Arkansas Department of Human Services."
The investigation was conducted by Arkansas State Police and the Little Rock Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with assistance from Jonesboro Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Allison W. Bragg.