The wife and mother of a jailed North Carolina man have been sentenced for participating in a scheme to traffic minors in order to raise money to get him out of jail.
Brianna Leshay Wright, 26, and her mother-in-law, Tanya Fuentes, 56, were sentenced Monday, August 26, for trafficking three underage girls in order to earn money to cover bond for Wright’s husband and Tanya's son, Zerrell Fuentes, federal prosecutors said in a release issued earlier this week. Wright was given 120 months in prison and 15 years of supervised release, while Tanya was handed a prison sentence of 24 months, followed by two years of supervised release, prosecutors said.
Zerrell admitted to orchestrating the scheme while in jail; he told the court he persuaded the three minor victims over the phone to engage in sex acts for money in order to raise money for his bond, and then arranged for his wife to transport the girls from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina in order for the plan to be carried out, according to the release.
Zerrell told a female friend about his plan during one jailhouse phone call, during which he said he had “three little birdies going to the beach to do something for him,” according to WSOC-TV.
Both Wright and Tanya drove the girls to Myrtle Beach between April 28, 2016, and May 8, 2016, with Tanya covering the cost of lodging while Wright used her cellphone to post advertisements of the girls online and drove them to see clients, prosecutors claimed. At least two of the victims, whose ages have not been released, are believed to have engaged in sexual conduct while in the area.
Wright “expressed frustration that the minors were not working hard enough, had not made enough money, and were keeping money from her,” according to court documents obtained by WSOC-TV.
Both women pleaded guilty on July 10, 2018 to sex trafficking of a minor; days later, on July 16, Tanya pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, according to the release.
When he came up with the scheme, Zerrell was in jail on hit-and-run and gun charges, the Charlotte Observer reports, citing jail records. He has not yet been sentenced for his role in the prostitution scheme, although he did plead guilty, and a date for his sentencing has not yet been set, according to the release, which notes that he could face between 10 years and life in prison, in addition to a $250,000 fine, if convicted of sex trafficking.
Wright's mother, Tiffany Streeter, said that her daughter likely acted out of love for her husband, rather than a desire to hurt children, according to WSOC-TV.
“I just feel like she wanted somebody to love her, that's all,” Streeter said.
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