Charlotte couple pleads guilty in child sex trafficking case

- A Charlotte man and his wife both appeared in federal court and entered a guilty plea Tuesday, admitting to forcing children into prostitution in Myrtle Beach. 

According to plea documents, between April 28, 2016 and May 8, 2016, Zerrell Ross Fuentes, 24, and his wife, Brianna Leshay Wright, 25, and his mother and indicted co-conspirator, Tanya Marie Fuentes, engaged in the sex trafficking of three minor victims. 

Fuentes admitted in court that, while he was in jail, he recruited three underage children, via telephone, to engage in prostitution to earn money for his bond. He reportedly arranged for his wife to transport the minor victims from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. 

According to court records, Wright, accompanied by Fuentes, drove the three children from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach. While in Myrtle Beach, Fuentes paid for lodging, and Wright’s phone was used to post prostitution advertisements for the children on the Internet.

Wright also provided her own telephone number on the ads, as a means of communication to arrange “dates” between the minors and customers, and transported the victims to and from the arranged prostitution appointments, documents state. 

Fuentes and Wright remain in custody. A sentencing date has not been set. Tanya Fuentes is charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to transport a minor to engage in prostitution, and transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution. Those charges are still pending, officials said. 

The penalty for sex trafficking related offenses is a mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.    

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