Former Metropolitan Police Officer Indicted On Charges Of Sex Trafficking Of Minors And Enticement Of Minors To Engage In Prostitution
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact ELIZABETH MORSE
www.justice.gov/usao/md at (410) 209-4885
Baltimore, Maryland – A federal grand jury indicted Chukwuemeka Ekwonna, age 28, of Glenn Dale, Maryland, on charges related to sex trafficking of minors and use of interstate commerce facilities to entice minors to engage in prostitution.
The indictment was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Andre R. Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Chief Tim Altomare of Anne Arundel County Police and Wes Adams of Anne Arundel State’s Attorney’s Office.
According to the 10-count indictment, beginning on or about January 24, 2016, Ekwonna worked as a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), in Washington, District of Columbia, where he was issued a Glock 17 handgun for use in connection with his duties as a police officer. On or about June 7, 2010, Ekwonna created a Tagged social media account entitled “E-man aka wateva u want me 2 be.” Tagged is a social media platform that allows members to create profiles, post status updates, upload photos, and send and receive messages. Tagged provides a mobile version of the platform that allows users to search for others based on location and engage in real-time chat.
Between June 1, 2011, and on or about April 6, 2017, Ekwonna exchanged approximately 53,000 messages with thousands of other Tagged users. Ekwonna used his Tagged account to send messages to many other users offering to pay them to engage in specific sex acts with him and to negotiate over the prices he would pay for sex.
Between December 19, 2016, and April 5, 2017, Ekwonna exchanged approximately 200 text and Tagged messages with a 14-year-old girl. In the messages, on several occasions Ekwonna offered to pay the victim to engage in sex acts with him. On January 9, 2017, Ekwonna exchanged approximately 54 Tagged messages with a 15-year-old girl. In the messages, Ekwonna also offered to pay the second victim to engage in sex acts with him. In both exchanges, Ekwonna discussed the sex acts they would engage in, and where they would meet. Both victims were students in the ninth grade at the time of the offenses.
On January 9, 2017, in the back seat of his vehicle, Ekwonna pointed a handgun at the second victim and demanded that she give him the money he had just paid her.
Ekwonna faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and maximum of life in prison and a fine of $250,000. An initial appearance is expected in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on August 11, 2017.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the HSI, the Anne Arundel County Police Department and the Anne Arundel States Attorney’s Office for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers who is prosecuting the case.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Maryland