A convicted sex trafficker from Dallas was sentenced to two decades in federal prison last week.
U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay for the Northern District of Texas sentenced Demetrius Lewaun Byrd, 39, for coercing one 17-year-old and two 18-year-olds into sex trafficking between 2016 and 2018.
In March 2022, Byrd pleaded guilty to the charges and testified to having used social media to find his victims, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In the case of a young woman in Oklahoma, testimony revealed that Byrd initially earned her trust by feigning a romantic relationship. After bringing her to Texas, he forced her to have sex with men in hotels for six months while pocketing the money.
Byrd allegedly used violent and coercive means to keep victims under his control, including staging his suicide to manipulate one girl into returning.
Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Dallas Field Office carried out the investigation, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Myria Boehm then prosecuted.
“HSI will spare no resource in ensuring that those who exploit children face justice for their egregious crimes. We remain dedicated to protecting the children of our communities,” said Lester R. Hayes Jr., HSI Dallas special agent in charge, per the press release.
Byrd, who also went by the name “Staxx Diego,” is one of many individuals suspected of engaging in sex trafficking in North Texas.
Late last month, Gershon Caston, a former teacher employed at four different local school districts in the past decade, was one of four people arrested on charges of aggravated sexual assault and the trafficking of a child, as reported by The Dallas Express.
The 38-year-old was taken into custody along with Lamorris Hudspeth, 47, Amber Gords, 30, and Adarius Staples, 33, for illicit activities purported to have taken place in June and July.
There have been 119 kidnappings reported within Dallas city limits as of August 30, up from the 100 cases logged during the same period last year, according to the City of Dallas Open Data victim demographics dashboard. As recently covered by The Dallas Express, the overwhelming majority of victims have been women or girls of color.
The Dallas Police Department is currently suffering a significant shortage of manpower, as the City currently only employs about 3,100 officers. This is far below the 4,000 needed to sufficiently manage crime, as indicated in a previous City report that recommends about three officers for every 1,000 residents.
The shortage has been especially felt in Downtown Dallas, where much higher crime rates are logged compared to the downtown area of Fort Worth. Downtown Fort Worth is patrolled by a dedicated police unit and private security guards.