Multiple state, local, and federal agencies combined efforts in early October, to disrupt a criminal enterprise known to be trafficking minors for sexual exploitation out of Tacoma, Washington. Working through the South Sound Child Exploitation Task Force (CETF) and the South Sound Gang Task Force (SSGTF), federal agents and law enforcement officers arrested five individuals on Monday, October 2, 2017, and two others in the days following.
The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PCPAO) charged Matthew Jeffrey Holt AKA “Boo,” 25, and six associates with conspiracy to commit human trafficking in the first degree, human trafficking in the first degree, human trafficking in the second degree, and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor. All defendants are known to law enforcement as members of the Tillicum Park Gangsters street gang.
“Cracking down on human sex trafficking is one of our top priorities, especially when the victims are underage,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “We appreciate the collaboration with the FBI and the Lakewood Police Department.”
In early August, 2016, a Lakewood police sergeant was listening to recorded jail calls that inmate Holt made while incarcerated in the Nisqually Jail. In some of the calls, Holt discussed with others what appeared to be coordination of ongoing prostitution activity. Because of what was heard, a copy of the calls was provided to the FBI-led South Sound CETF, who continued the investigation along with the SSGTF.
Holt is well known to law enforcement and is the self-proclaimed leader of the Tillicum Park Gangsters street gang. In one conversation Holt was heard saying, “I don’t treat them [women and girls] like nothing but the [expletive] on the bottom of my shoe.”
The investigation in this case uncovered crimes committed by the co-defendants including human trafficking, assault, rape, and/or promoting commercial exploitation of a minor. Fifteen victims have been identified thus far, including one just 13 years old. According to the charges, the victims were forced to engage in prostitution throughout the Tacoma and Lakewood areas, as well as in Olympia, Lacey, and Bellingham. The crimes were allegedly committed over a period of months that appear to begin in the summer of 2016 through September 2017.
“We will continue to work hard to combat Human Trafficking and arrest those who victimize some of our most vulnerable population,” said Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro.
Bail was set at $1,000,000.00.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.