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Man charged with offering to ‘break’ sex trafficking victim

Last updated on November 15, 2020

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A 37-year-old man who volunteered to torture a sex trafficking victim for money has been charged with human trafficking crimes, announced U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Erin Nealy Cox.

Billie Joe Sanford, of Eustace, Texas, was charged via criminal complaint on Friday, Nov. 6 with attempting to aid and abet sex trafficking. He made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge David Horan on Monday, Nov. 9. 

Today, a federal magistrate judge ordered Mr. Sanford released on conditions pending trial. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has vowed to vigorously appeal that decision. The Defendant will be held in custody pending the filing of the appeal.

“I shudder to think what could have happened had the ‘victim’ in this case been a vulnerable woman, rather than an undercover agent. The North Texas Trafficking Task Force, led by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is dedicated to stopping this sort of brutality in all its many forms,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “Allowing this defendant back into the community is unacceptable to us and we will do everything we can to keep him off the streets until we can bring him to justice.”

“Human trafficking is one of the most despicable crimes against humanity that HSI investigates. The vicious criminals that often manipulate or force their victims into unspeakable situations for profit will pay a price of their own,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Dallas. “We will use every resource available with our law-enforcement partners to identify and hold responsible anyone who thinks this behavior is worth the risk. Eradicating human trafficking and protecting the victims is one of HSI’s top priorities.”

According to the complaint, Mr. Sanford, using the screenname“MasterBill75751,” responded to an online advertisement for a sex trafficking victim who “needs breaking.” Unbeknownst to the defendant, the ad had been posted by an undercover agent.

“I am willing to help break her into a proper slave,” Mr. Sanford wrote on Oct. 9.  

In subsequent messages, he asked for $5,000 a week to brutalize the victim, demanding “complete privacy” without neighbors nearby.

On Oct. 29, Mr. Sanford and the undercover agent met in person in Plano, TX.

Posing as the head of a sizable human trafficking ring, the agent told Mr. Sanford he planned to “make a fortune” pimping out the victim, but was concerned by her refusal to engage in commercial sex and her repeated attempts at escape. He stated he had resorted to handcuffing the victim and locking her in a bathroom.

In response, Mr. Sanford bragged that he had “broken” trafficking victims previously and outlined the methods of torture he planned to use: flogging, caging, shock therapy, blaring heavy metal music, whips, and black-out contacts. He explained that while he understood how to cause “excruciating pain,” he would not leave any scars that would affect the victim’s later sale.

“You want someone that when it’s done, if she gets just a smidgen out of line, then you can say, ‘hey, I’m going to call him back,’” he told the agent. “You want her to believe that whenever she leaves her job, if she does not report back to you, she is going back to Bill… I just make sure they understand they never want to experience this again.”

A week later, on Nov. 5, Mr. Sanford and the agent met again in Irving, TX. Mr. Sanford agreed to follow the agent to a nearby location, where a second undercover agent, posing as the victim, sat restrained in the back seat of a vehicle. When he arrived, Mr. Sanford unloaded a suitcase and bag containing leather restraints, flogs, spurs, and other equipment.

In a subsequent interview with law enforcement, the defendant said he’d been living the “kink” lifestyle for several years. Asked about the victim he’d offered to break, Mr. Sanford stated he was hard up for money and simply wanted to “help her enjoy life.”

A criminal complaint is merely an allegation of wrongdoing, not evidence. Like all defendants, Mr. Sanford is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

If convicted, he faces up to life in federal prison.

Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office Investigator, the Fort Worth Police Department, the Colleyville Police Department, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rebekah Ricketts and Andrew Briggs are prosecuting the case.

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