INDIANAPOLIS –United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announces the sentencing of convicted sex trafficker Elijah Vines, aka “Elijah Kilt Vines,” to 40 years in federal prison. Judge James R. Sweeney II also sentenced Vines to a lifetime of Supervised Release and ordered him to pay over $10,000 in restitution to the minor victim.
“Sex trafficking, particularly of children, simply cannot be tolerated. Our children should be able to grow up without being offered for sale by adults who seek to profit from their vulnerability and who place price tags on their innocence,” said Minkler. “A necessarily harsh sentence will keep this defendant behind the walls of a federal prison until at least 2053.”
In United States v. Elijah Vines, a jury returned verdicts against the Defendant on January 28, 2019. Jurors convicted Vines of sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor, interstate transportation of a minor, and interstate transportation in furtherance of racketeering.
Vines travelled to Ohio to transport a teenager, who had run away from foster care, back to Indiana so that he could sexually exploit her. Evidence at trial showed that Vines posted advertisements for this girl using his account on Backpage.com, a website frequently used for commercial sex, which was shut down by the Department of Justice in April of 2018.
Prosecutors presented evidence from Vines’ Facebook account in which he shared images of the minor child, bragging that the girl was ready to do what he said at a motel. The Government also presented the jurors with numerous jail calls in which Vines directed co-conspirators to traffic the girl until Vines was released from jail. In addition to the minor girl, evidence showed that Vines offered other women for sale through his Backpage and Facebook accounts, and he boasted that he had multiple women who sold themselves for him. At the time that Vines committed his crimes, he was on probation in Marion County, and he had prior convictions for Robbery. In addition to this case, Vines is awaiting trial for Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon.
The case began in October of 2016 as an investigation by the IMPD Human Trafficking and Vice Unit, after the child disclosed information while being treated at Riley Hospital for Children. Months of investigation, including work by the FBI, the Indiana State Police, and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, revealed evidence in the form of social media postings, online advertisements, police reports, motel records, jail calls, cell phone evidence, and email records.
“This result is a testament to the power of a team: the concerted effort of law enforcement, victim services, medical professionals, and prosecutors to bring about a just result,” said Minkler. Every child in this community – no matter how vulnerable, how broken, or how isolated – should know that we stand ready to stand with you.”
“The victimization of any member of our community, and especially our city’s children, is unacceptable,” said Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach. “The officers and detectives of the IMPD remain committed to holding accountable those who seek to prey on our most vulnerable residents. We will continue to work closely with our partners in law enforcement to achieve meaningful results.”
“Human trafficking takes many forms, often going hidden and unnoticed in our own community. With growing attention and public understanding of this crime, we hope that more individuals will recognize the red flags and report their suspicions to law enforcement,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry stated. “We are proud to work with our public safety partners to investigate and ultimately bring victims out of those shadows, free to live a safe, healthy life.”
“Children in the foster care system are some of our most vulnerable population. As they seek stability, love, and a place to belong, we must assure these at-risk kids do not fall prey to adults with malicious intentions. These convictions should serve as a warning: if the victim is under 18, it’s not “pimping.” It’s trafficking, and it is a federal crime. We will not stop seeking justice for these victims.”
This case was prosecuted at trial by Assistant United States Attorneys Lawrence Hilton and Kristina Korobov and Victim-Witness Coordinator Stephanie Lloyd. It was handled in the Marion County Courts by Deputy Prosecutor Stephanie Edwards. IMPD was represented by Detectives Sheryl McGlinsey and Task Force Officer Gabriel Cuevas. FBI Special Agents Michelle Bartelson and Elizabeth Carlson, along with Victim Specialist Sarah Abdullah, worked this case. Indiana State Police Sergeant Jennifer Barnes presented the computer forensic evidence.
In October 2017, United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced a Strategic Plan designed to shape and strengthen the District’s response to its most significant public safety challenges. This prosecution demonstrates the office’s firm commitment to utilize and partner with law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals engaged in the sexual exploitation of children. See United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Indiana Strategic Plan Section 4.2