10/1/2014

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Field Notes

Prosecutors say glamorous image was front for sex trafficker

Prosecutors say glamorous image was front for sex trafficker
Taquarius Ford
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Taquarius Ford paints a picture of the Hollywood life in press releases and websites announcing various initiatives.

He says he has a talent agency. He says he represents musicians and people in the entertainment industry. He says he started an organization to keep kids from using drugs.

There are pictures of Ford with Taylor Swift. Ford with Jermaine Jackson. Ford with Nick Cannon. Ford with The Biebs.

It all comes across as borderline glamorous.

Prosecutors say that made it very easy for him to lure young women into his fold.

They say he would find young women in suburban shopping malls where he would introduce himself as a modeling executive. He would then promise them a contract. He would get them to travel to Los Angeles where he would wine and dine them in Hollywood.

Then, according to court papers, he would tell “them that if they want to be models, they must first work for him as prostitutes.”

That brings us to Wednesday in Federal Court in Portland, where Ford will appear at a detention hearing. He was indicted here on charges of sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.

A judge wrote: “Once the girls agreed to join the modeling agency, (Ford) would inform them that he also had an escort service on the side and asked them to work as escorts. If the girls refused, (Ford) would threaten them and their families and beat them and raped them.”

READ THE DOCUMENTS: Ford's detention memo and Ford's indictment.

The case centers around his alleged treatment of a woman he met at a mall in Idaho.

He “flew her to Los Angeles, and took her to a party at the Playboy Mansion,” according to court papers. “He then coerced her to work in his escort business, and when she protested, he forcibly raped her, with his hands around her neck, while calling her a ‘whore.’”

He and his co-defendant – a woman on the run and believed to be in Ukraine, where she is a citizen – then threatened to harm the woman’s family if she didn’t do what they said, the papers say.

Prosecutors charge that Ford and the woman then brought their victim to Portland to turn tricks.

“Thanks to a vigilant hotel clerk and a diligent Port of Portland police officer, that young victim was rescued,” say prosecutors.

That was in 2012. While Ford was arrested, he was not indicted at the time.

Court papers state that further investigation by the Portland Police Bureau found Ford had written an autobiography in which he “describes his recruitment tactics in suburban shopping malls, and brags about the vast wealth he has enjoyed for the past decade as a result of his successful 'escort' business.

“Tragically, further investigation also revealed a second rape victim.”

In late January, Ford was indicted by a Federal grand jury in Portland.

One month later, Ford arrived in Florida on a flight from Sweden and was taken into custody.

Prosecutors describe Ford as audacious, so much so that while he was organizing what he said was an anti-trafficking group, he “simultaneously trafficked young women.

“Despite his prolific self-promotion as a modeling executive, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist, he is nothing more than a violent pimp who has lived off exploiting women his entire adult life.”

Ford has pleaded not guilty. His previous attempts to get out on bail have been denied.

He will try again Wednesday.

Prosecutors argue he should be kept behind bars until trial. They think there are other victims out there.

“There is no release plan or conditions that will reasonably assure the Court that defendant will appear for trial, or that he does not pose a continuing danger to other young women,” prosecutors say.

“Home detention or a bracelet is not enough to stop him or to reasonably assure that he will show up to face these charges, which carry a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence.”

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