Police and federal agents arrested 10 people in Baltimore this week on charges that they ran a prostitution ring and forced women to travel to Texas for sex, according to law enforcement authorities and an indictment.
Few details of the case were publicly released. The suspects were arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and ordered detained. Prosecutors in El Paso, Texas, said they would be transferred to that state for prosecution.
A statement from the U.S. attorney's office in the western district of Texas identifies the suspected ringleader as Alarcon Allen Wiggins, 43, who has addresses in the past few years that include Pulaski Highway in Baltimore and Hampstead in Carroll County.
Prosecutors said the group, since 2009, "recruited and transported several females to El Paso and other locations in order to engage in prostitution." Authorities also said that the group leaders seized documents, cellphones and laptop computers "in order to keep their victims from fleeing or seeking help."
Neither the statement from the U.S. attorney's office nor the indictment details how the women were brought into the alleged ring. Officials also would not disclose how many women are involved or how they were treated.
Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein declined to comment on the case, as did a spokesman for Baltimore's FBI field office. A spokesman for federal prosecutors in El Paso would not say anything beyond what was contained in the statement and public court filings.
The 10 defendants were each charged with one count of transportation for prostitution and one count of coercion and enticement. They could each receive up to 20 years in prison if convicted. None had their own attorneys in court on Friday; public defenders were assigned.
Wiggins has an extensive arrest record in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, records show. He's been convicted three times since 1994 of misdemeanor theft and twice of drug possession, including marijuana. His longest stint in jail was 90 days, court records show.
The nine other suspects are all from the Baltimore area. Prosecutors said most of the suspects had nicknames such as "Kristale," "Tuesday," "J-Rock," "Wezz Fresh," and Foxy."
In the indictment, which was filed by a grand jury in Texas and unsealed Wednesday in Baltimore, prosecutors said they are seeking to seize a 2003 red Chevrolet Trailblazer and a white 1998 Dodge Ram van, along with $1 million in proceeds.