JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Wednesday’s indictment charges Kenneth Jones, a 25 year old from Columbia, with three counts of transportation for illegal sexual activity by coercion and enticement.
These charges are from when Jones allegedly lured three victims to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illicit sexual activity between May 1 and June 1 of 2016.
One of the victims was a minor, so the indictment also charges Jones with one count of transporting a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activity and with the sex trafficking of a minor, along with three counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.
"I just can't stress enough how this form of crime has been right under our noses for a long time," said Nanette Ward with the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition.
According to an affidavit that was filed in support of the federal criminal complaint, FBI agents learned on June 29, 2016, that a 17-year-old runaway from Wisconsin was being held against her will and forced into prostitution by Jones. She was located at a residence in Columbia and removed by law enforcement agents.
According to court documents, another woman told investigators Jones threatened to put her on the streets if she didn't continue to sell herself for sex. Jones allegedly threatened her with a handgun in one instance.
Another woman reportedly escaped from Jones in late May or early June 2016.
"There's so much going on that's really a dark, unhealthy aspect as who were are as a community," Ward said. "I think all of us should be concerned about that."
Jones is being held in federal custody without bond.