On Thursday, Datqunn Sawyer, a notoriously brutal West Side pimp, was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The sentence is believed to be the toughest penalty Chicago’s federal court has ever handed down to a convicted sex trafficker, reports the Chicago Tribune.
According to prosecutors, Sawyer used physical violence and intimidation in order to coerce underage girls and vulnerable woman into working for him as prostitutes. A federal jury convicted him of sex trafficking charges in November.
Sawyer often preyed on young women and girls who were homeless, abused, or suffering from mental illness, according to prosecutors. In one case, he reportedly promised a 12-year-old girl that he could help her begin a modeling career. He then taught her to perform sex acts and forced her to “work the track,” Sawyer’s slang for walking the West Side streets. The woman, who is now 19, testified against Sawyer at his trial.
In order to retain control, Sawyer employed brute force, often using hammers or studded belts to beat his victims, prosecutors alleged.
Under federal law, sex trafficking is “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.”
Although prosecutors assert that there are countless pimps like Sawyer committing federal sex trafficking crimes, they acknowledge the immense difficulty in prosecuting pimps in federal court. Victims are often too afraid to testify.
Prosecutors hope that Datqunn Sawyer’s record prison term will act as a deterent for those involved in sex trafficking crimes. Sawyer will be 74 before he’s released from federal prison.
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