COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus man has been arrested on federal sex trafficking charges.
Terrael Alexander Alls, 28, was taken into custody in Licking County on Friday after a yearlong investigation by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio announced Tuesday. Alls has been charged with one count of sex trafficking by means of force, fraud, or coercion and faces up to 15 years in prison.
“Court records contain disturbing testimony by two of the numerous victims as they describe what they’ve been through,” Kenneth Parker, the U.S. district attorney, said in a press release. “I admire their courage to come forward and encourage anyone else who may be a victim to reach out to law enforcement.”
According to the unsealed criminal complaint, a report to Columbus police in February 2022 initiated the investigation. A woman reported on Feb. 1, 2022, that while she was staying at a hotel in Columbus the previous weekend, a man approached her with a business card for a modeling agency and urged her to call him.
Human Trafficking Task Force investigators contacted the woman, who said the business card was for a company called Elite Diamond Studios and listed a phone number and email. Phone records revealed the subscriber’s name as a woman who the task force later identified as one of All’s victims. Law enforcement was able to connect the number to a CashApp account and “sex escort advertisements,” according to the complaint.
Call records showed one number frequently exchanging phone calls and texts with the phone number from the business card. Law enforcement determined the second phone number belonged to Alls and was also linked to sex escort advertisements.
A separate tip was made to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, and in March 2022 the task force interviewed a witness who said Alls was trafficking women. The witness also confirmed that a woman whose name was associated with the business card phone number was being trafficked by Alls.
According to the complaint, the witness claimed that Alls coerced the victim into prostitution with drugs and abuse and said they saw bruises and marks on the victim’s body.
In April 2022, the victim was arrested at a hotel and told officers that Alls, who was at the hotel, was trafficking her and that he recruits women by claiming to be a model photographer. After agreeing to hand over her phone as evidence, the victim explained to investigators that Alls would post advertisements for prostitution on escort websites and set up meetings with or send sexually explicit images and videos to customers.
The victim further told investigators that Alls gave drugs, including fentanyl and methamphetamine, to his victims, often so they could stay awake to see more clients, according to the complaint. Alls took all the money the victim made, she said, and CashApp records indicate she transferred nearly $12,000 to Alls over a period of five months. Alls frequently used the victim’s debt to him as a means to coerce her into prostitution, the complaint alleged.
The document went further, detailing that Alls trafficked at least seven other women, who were each assigned a different email and phone number posted on sex escort advertisements. Another victim told investigators that Alls also gave her drugs and threatened to beat her if she didn’t pay him money for “room rent.” The night before she left Alls, she called the police due to his threats of violence and told officers she was being trafficked.
Images and videos from cellphones, Facebook and Snapchat showed the victims and Alls engaged in sex acts, according to the complaint. Phone records also showed threatening messages from Alls to the victims as well as mentions of sexual activity for hire and monetary debts.
Alls made an initial appearance in court Tuesday, where a judge ordered that he stayed detained. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 17.
The attorney’s office asked anyone with information related to this investigation or knowledge of additional victims of human trafficking to call the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446) or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888.