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Iowa Man sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking

Marlin Santana Thomas sex-trafficked six adult victims and one minor victim
Marlin Santana Thomas sex-trafficked six adult victims and one minor victim
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 5:26 PM CST
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - 46-year-old Marlin Santana Thomas of Des Moines was sentenced to life in prison for sex trafficking six adult victims by force, fraud, and coercion as well as trafficking a 14-year-old victim.

Thomas admitted in his plea agreement that he began trafficking victims in 2009, and as frequently as in 2018 when he was arrested as part of a separate federal drug investigation. Thomas admitted using physical violence against all six adults victims to coerce them to engage in commercial sex acts, including punching one victim in the face and assaulting another in her home. Thomas also used a victim’s heroin addiction to coerce her into engaging in commercial sex acts.

Des Moines Police Department Sergeant Brady Carney testified that he had interviewed an additional 11 women who Thomas had raped, physically assaulted, and/or attempted to sex traffic. Sergeant Carney located hotel receipts, police reports, phone records, online escort ads, medical records, photographs, and witnesses who verified the victim’s accounts. Sergeant Carney testified that Thomas assaulted, raped, and stalked victims who did not comply.

Anyone who suspects human trafficking is occurring, be it a minor engaging in paid sex acts, or anyone being coerced into prostitution or labor, is urged to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. 

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