A jury handed a man a life sentence for human trafficking on Thursday in the first trial of its kind held in Ellis County.
Deandre DeSuza, a 28-year-old resident of Las Vegas, was arrested in March 2022 near Waxahachie on allegations of grooming, trafficking, and sexually assaulting a minor in October 2021. He was detained at the Ellis County Jail on a $200,000 bond.
DeSuza allegedly entered into contact with the 14-year-old victim on social media and, after gaining her trust, traveled to North Texas to meet her. She allegedly met with DeSuza, who took her to a hotel. Her absence was noted by her family.
Upon her return, the victim disclosed the assault, the authorities were contacted, and forensic evidence of the alleged assault was collected.
The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security launched an investigation into DeSuza, who had returned to Las Vegas. His home was searched, with investigators allegedly uncovering digital evidence of him grooming and taking explicit images of the victim, as well as other child porn content.
“DeSuza groomed the child, asking her to confide in him about her mental health issues and complimenting her appearance. DeSuza flew to the metroplex and drove to Ellis County specifically for the purpose of sexually assaulting the child. He transported the child to a neighborhood hotel where he took explicit photographs and sexually assaulted the child,” reads a release by the Ellis County District Attorney’s Office, which was posted on social media.
Judge Cindy Ermatinger read the jury’s guilty verdict on October 26 after a swift trial. He was sentenced to life in prison.
“In this case, a predator boarded a plane with the intent to isolate and abuse one of our Texas children, and our jury could not allow him to remain free,” said Ann Montgomery, district attorney of Ellis County, in a statement.
In Texas, sex trafficking occurs when a person transports another individual for the purposes of prostitution or other illicit acts.
In Dallas, crimes similar to these have remained prevalent throughout 2023, with 630 sex offenses, 44 instances of human trafficking, and 49 pornography-related crimes reported as of October 27, according to the City of Dallas crime overview dashboard.
With the Dallas Police Department experiencing a longstanding shortage of officers, responding to these and other types of crime has been challenging, as extensively covered by The Dallas Express. Fewer than 3,200 officers currently serve in the department despite a City analysis estimating that Dallas needs approximately 4,000 officers to manage crime adequately.
“Human trafficking has been a target for law enforcement and prosecutors across the state of Texas because it can be deadly for our most vulnerable: our children. Trafficking adds an additional element of power for child abusers: the physical removal of a child from a safe environment for the specific purpose of violating their innocence. In this case, a predator boarded a plane with the intent to isolate and abuse one of our Texas children, and our jury could not allow him to remain free,” said Montgomery.