2 men charged with witness tampering in North Texas federal criminal complaint

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Defendants threatened to harm witnesses and their family members

FORT WORTH, Texas — Two men, from Fort Worth and Louisiana, appeared Wednesday in federal court on a federal criminal complaint stemming from their attempt to threaten witnesses who were cooperating with law enforcement to prosecute a child sex trafficking organization.

These criminal charges were announced by U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern District of Texas.  This case is being investigated by the following agencies:  U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); FBI; and the Texas police departments of Fort Worth, Tyler and Arlington.

The criminal complaint charges both Bruce Trenshel Davis, aka “Wheatie,” 25, of Shreveport, Louisiana, and Brandon Ray Austin, aka “Pep,” 31, of Fort Worth, with one count of attempting to obstruct or interfere with enforcement and one count of tampering with a witness, victim or informant.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton ordered both defendants to remain in custody pending further court hearings.  

“Protecting victims and witnesses is one of the most important jobs of law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Parker.  “We will aggressively prosecute those who attempt to threaten, intimidate, or do physical harm against those who cooperate and work with law enforcement.  That commitment is never more steadfast than in cases such as this, involving violent threats against minor female victims who have been sexually exploited.

In March 2017, the Fort Worth Police Department’s VICE Unit conducted a recovery operation in response to a lead sent from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in reference to a suspected victim of child sex trafficking.  Fort Worth VICE Unit officers located and used a Backpage.com ad containing photographs of a minor female that advertised commercial sex acts.  As a result of this operation, the minor female was recovered. Additionally, two other minor females, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, were also located. The operation resulted in eight men being arrested on sex trafficking of children charges.

Demarcus Davis, Kentrell Davis, Pierre Lagrone, Herman Sanders and Reginald Smith were among the eight charged.

According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, on July 25, 2017, Bruce Davis, a relative of Demarcus Davis and Kentrell Davis, sent threatening text messages to Jane Doe 2, the 17-year-old female victim in the case mentioned above. Bruce Davis threatened physical harm to Jane Doe 2 and her family because he believed she was cooperating with law enforcement to prosecute Kentrell Davis and Demarcus Davis.

Another witness, who cooperated with law enforcement and provided valuable evidence that detailed the size and scope of the same child sex trafficking organization, received threats from Austin, according to the affidavit. Austin was friends with Lagrone, Sanders and Smith. On Oct. 18 and 19, 2017, Austin sent text messages to the witness threatening her for cooperating with the prosecution of Lagrone, Sanders and Smith.

A complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge.  A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.  The government has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.  The maximum penalty for the offense is not more than 20 years in federal prison.

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