Atlantic City man indicted on 6 human trafficking counts

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An Atlantic City man has been indicted for operating a human trafficking ring in which he held multiple women captive in motel rooms and forced them into prostitution, Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced today.

On Thursday, Dec. 19, an Atlantic County Grand Jury indicted Donnie Bethea, 30, on 15 counts; including six counts of human trafficking. Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Buckley represented the State in the matter.

The charges stem from a six-month-long joint investigation conducted by the Egg Harbor Township Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “Innocence Lost” Task Force, which is comprised of members of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s and Sheriff’s Offices, the FBI and NJ Department of Human Services.

The Joint investigation revealed that over the course of five months, Bethea had lured at least six women to the Ramada Limited and other West Atlantic City motels, where he held them captive in a room while threatening them with serious bodily harm or physical restraint. Bethea then used the online classifieds website backpage.com to advertise the captive women as providers of sexual services, forcing the women to engage in prostitution with men whom responded to the ads. Bethea would force the women to turn over all the proceeds they received to him.

On Aug. 28, Egg Harbor Township Police arrested Bethea after discovering that he had been holding a 22-year-old woman against her will, in a room at the Ramada Limited, and forcing her to engage in prostitution. Bethea was charged with aggravated sexual assault, promoting prostitution, aggravated assault, criminal restraint and possession of a weapon. He was lodged at the Atlantic County Justice Facility in lieu of $250,000 bail. (Read more HERE.)

On Sept. 10, Bethea was additionally charged with counts of promoting prostitution and criminal restraint after detectives discovered Bethea had previously held another 22-year-old woman against her will for a week in a room at the Ramada and also forced her to engage in prostitution. (Read more HERE)

As the investigation progressed, four more female victims, all in their early 20’s, were discovered.

On Oct. 1, acting Prosecutor McClain authorized additionally charging Bethea with six counts of first-degree human trafficking.

Bethea’s bail was increased to $1 million full cash. He remains lodged at the Atlantic County Justice Facility.

Human trafficking, a crime of the first-degree, caries a New Jersey State prison sentence of between 10-20 years and up to $200,000 in fines.


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