LOS ANGELES – A Gardena man who was found guilty of sex trafficking seven girls, most of whom had been coerced or forced to work as prostitutes, was sentenced today to 40 years in federal prison.
Laron Darrell Carter, also known as “Birdd” and variations of that moniker, 39, received the sentence from United States District Judge Virginia A. Phillips, who also ordered the defendant to pay $631,248 in restitution to six of his victims.
Following a five-day trial in April, a jury convicted Carter of seven counts of sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud or coercion, and seven counts of transporting a child to engage in prostitution.
The evidence at trial showed that Carter, a Crip gang member, trafficked girls as young as 13 and subjected some of them to beatings, which included victims being punched in the face and whipped with a belt.
Carter’s “conduct in this case spanned a decade as he prostituted the seven minor victims from 2003 to 2013” and transported them from California to Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Washington DC and Nevada, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.
“This defendant appeared to relish his role exploiting young children, but now he will pay a heavy price for the immeasurable damage he caused to his young victims,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Mr. Carter was able to seduce child victims into prostitution by tricking them into thinking he was their boyfriend, but he turned violent when the girls tried to leave or violated his ‘rules.’ No person, and particularly no child, should ever be subject to this type of exploitation and abuse.”
The case against Carter stemmed from the rescue of a 16-year-old girl in 2013. The victim told investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that she had been recruited by Carter to travel from Minneapolis to Los Angeles. When she arrived in Southern California, Carter forced her into prostitution. As part of his activities, Carter took this victim to a hotel in El Segundo and advertised her services on backpage.com. The victim “ran away at one point, but she found herself lost with no money and returned,” according to court documents. “When she returned, defendant beat her and whipped her with a belt for leaving.”
After this victim was rescued, investigators located six other girls – one of whom was only 13 – who had been coerced or physically forced into prostitution by Carter between 2003 and 2010.
“Above all, this sentence assures no more girls will fall prey to this brazen and manipulative sexual predator for decades to come,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of HSI Los Angeles. “But the outcome of this case should also serve as a sobering warning to those engaged in the sex trafficking of minors about the severe consequences for those who commit such crimes. HSI will continue to work tirelessly with its federal and local counterparts to identify these dangerous offenders and bring them to justice. Our efforts are vital to protecting young people from the fear and suffering these predators inflict on their victims.”
During the trial earlier this year, the jury saw Facebook postings in which Carter described himself as a “cross country pimp” who worked for “Pimpin International.” The jury also saw photos of tattoos with the “Birdd” moniker that victims were forced to get.
The case against Carter was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jeff Mitchell and Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky of the Violent and Organized Crime Section.