By Ashley Cox

MIAMI, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)– A man who coerced two women and a girl into selling themselves for sex in Miami during the 2020 Superbowl was found guilty of commercial sex trafficking by a federal jury in Ft. Lauderdale this week.

During the eight-day trial, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alejandra L. López and Brian Dobbins presented evidence that in January 2020, Edward Walker, 48, of New Haven, Connecticut, brought two adult women and a 17-year-old girl to Miami from Connecticut to engage in commercial sex acts during the SuperBowl.  While in Miami, Walker emotionally, psychologically, and financially coerced the victims into soliciting customers and having sex with them in exchange for money, all of which Walker kept.  Additional evidence showed that after the Superbowl in Miami, Walker planned to take the victims to Chicago, Illinois (during the NBA All-Star Game), New Orleans, Lousiana (during Mardi Gras), Las Vegas, Nevada, and other places to further sexually exploit them.

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The jury found Walker guilty of sex trafficking by force and coercion, sex trafficking of a minor and by force and coercion, and transporting a person for sexual activity.  U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn will sentence Walker on January 6, 2022, in federal court in Ft. Lauderdale.  He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Divisions Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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Juan Antonio Gonzalez, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami; and Alfredo Ramirez, III, Director of Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), announced the guilty verdict.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, in partnership with MDPD’s Human Trafficking Squad, and the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force.  FBI New Haven; Homeland Security Investigations Miami; Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Miami Office; Miami Beach Police Department; and Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office assisted.

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To report suspected human trafficking or to obtain resources for victims, please call 1-888-373-7888; text “BeFree” (233733), or live chat at HumanTraffickingHotline.org.  The toll-free phone, SMS text lines, and online chat function are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  Help is available in English, Spanish, Creole, or in more than 200 additional languages.  The National Hotline is not managed by law enforcement, immigration or an investigative agency.  Correspondence with the National Hotline is confidential and you may request assistance or report a tip anonymously.