Jerome Cole, Texas man, gets 40 years in prison for child sex trafficking
A federal judge in Waco on Wednesday sentenced 27-year-old Jerome Maurice Cole of Killeen. Cole in November pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of children.
Investigators say Cole since 2011 ran a prostitution ring using computers and websites to lure girls and then advertise their sexual services.
Agents were able to establish that photographs of the girls had been stored on Cole's cellphone and had been transmitted to an Internet website that advertised women as prostitutes in the Killeen area, CBS affiliate KWTX reports.
Cole's co-defendant, Nancy Foley, was reportedly sentenced to four years in federal prison earlier this month after she pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to promote a business enterprise involving prostitution.
According to KWTX, an investigation showed the inappropriate photographs of the girls on Cole's phone had been taken using Foley's cell phone and later were transmitted via text message to Cole's device.
Police uncovered the plot after a woman that she believed her daughter, who was a run-away, was staying in the Killeen area and could have been tricked into becoming a prostitute, KWTX reports.
Over several weeks police were able to identify at least two other girls younger than 18 who also were being promoted as prostitutes.
Killeen police last May responded to a call from a 16-year-old runaway who was at Cole's home. Police rescued her and during the investigation identified another 16-year-old girl who was forced into prostitution and a third child being recruited.
Cole was arrested Aug. 15 when he arrived at an agreed-upon location in Killeen to pick up the third youth.