Friday, September 2, 2016
HOUSTON – A jury sitting in Houston has returned guilty verdicts against a Houston woman for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors and sex trafficking of minors, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The jury convicted Jazsmine Arielle Joseph, 27 , this morning following a week-long trial and approximately six hours of deliberation.
Co-defendant Xavier Cooper, 31, previously pleaded guilty.
The jury found Joseph engaged in a conspiracy with Cooper between October 2014 through March 2015, in which they engaged in conspiracy to entice, transport and harbor a minor female to engage in commercial sex. Joseph paid for and directed the posting of prostitution ads online. Joseph also rented hotel rooms where the minor engaged in commercial sex acts.
The jury heard that the the minor engaged in numerous commercial sex acts over the course of the conspiracy culminating with her recovery during a highly publicized sting operation on March 31, 2015. At trial, Joseph claimed she was “just helping a friend” in regard to her renting the hotel room and assisting with the posting of the prostitution ads. The jury also heard about and viewed text messages between Joseph and Cooper discussing the minor victim. The texts discussed making sure the victim was ready to receive customers and when customers were on their way.
Joseph attempted to convey her innocence by testifying she was trying to help the victim and protect her from Cooper. The jury was not convinced and found her guilty on both counts.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner presided over the trial and set sentencing for Nov. 28, 2016. At that time, Joseph faces up to life in prison. Previously released on bond, she was ordered into custody following the return of the verdicts today.
The Texas Department of Public Safety investigated with the assistance of the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly A. Leo and Sherri L. Zack prosecuted the case.
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.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."