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Accused leader of TX ‘large-scale’ sex trafficking ring faces federal charges

The Department of Homeland Security logo hangs in San Diego during a news conference on October 26, 2017. (John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

A man accused of running a sex trafficking ring in north Fort Worth will face additional charges in federal court.

Tremont Blakemore — also known as Macknificent — coerced, threatened and forced women into performing sexual acts across the DFW area and in at least 11 other states, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security.

Blakemore was previously indicted in the District Court of Dallas in November on charges of aggravated promotion of prostitution, tampering with physical evidence, engaging in organized crime, money laundering and compelling prostitution. He pleaded not guilty to the crimes and had been under full house arrest until he was arrested by federal authorities on Wednesday.

Blakemore was originally scheduled to be on trial for the state-level charges on Sept. 23, but it’s likely that trial will be postponed in light of the new federal charges.

A 16-page complaint filed in the Northern District of Texas described a culture of paranoia, fear and physical and emotional abuse inside Blakemore’s alleged human trafficking network. Police have said that Blakemore has likely controlled upward of 100 women.

At least seven of those victims have been identified and interviewed by investigators, according to the criminal complaint. They had been trafficked from as early as 2011 to as recently of September 2018, when Blakemore was arrested by Dallas and Fort Worth police.

Trafficker gave the illusion of a ‘lavish lifestyle’

Blakemore required “absolute loyalty” from the women he trafficked, encouraging them to get tattoos bearing the “Macknificent” name, investigators said in the complaint. He did not let them be close friends with one another or talk to other men unless the man was a commercial sex customer.

The seven women who spoke to investigators said Blakemore used physical violence to coerce obedience, which included hitting them with objects and burning them with cigarettes. One woman said Blakemore threw her against an air conditioning unit after she said she wanted to leave the group. When she couldn’t stand up, the complaint says Blakemore started to kick her.

The woman told investigators she escaped to the front desk of a hotel, called police and drove herself to the hospital. She said she believed Blakemore attacked her in front of the other woman to “make an example” of her.

Blakemore also forced the women to have sex with him, investigators said, and threatened them if they tried to leave.

Every night, Blakemore gave them a $1,000 quota before they were allowed to return home, according to documents obtained from the Dallas Police Department. They all got $10 a day for food, the woman who talked to police at the hospital said. Blakemore kept the rest of the money.

“Dates,” as the document calls them, ranged from $100 for a half-hour to $250 for a full hour depending on whether the client traveled to the woman or the woman traveled to them — meaning a woman might have to have sex with 10 people in one night in order to make her quota.

Group leaders collected money from the women when they traveled to other states, which included California, New York, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North and South Carolina, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Hawaii and Ohio, investigators said.

Investigators found evidence that Blakemore advertised commercial sex through social media and sex websites.

Police found at least 1,789 online ads for sex related to Blakemore’s operation, documents say.

He also curated the women’s social media “to give the illusion that they were living a lavish lifestyle,” investigators wrote.

On Instagram, Blakemore posted photos of Bentleys, Rolls Royces, BMWs, diamond necklaces and rings and smiling women dressed in designer clothing. The women often used the hashtag #MacknificentsB**ch on their profiles. In other posts, he shared photos of various women and congratulated them on their Brazilian butt lifts and breast enhancement surgeries.

Eventually, Blakemore created a separate Instagram page for the women. “Get a glimpse of the life of these Macknificent ladies!” he wrote. He also created a Facebook page for the women with a “book now” option.

The complaint included a text message investigators say Blakemore sent to 19 women in August 2018. The message included the following statements: “People are starting to really test my patience by not following instructions and doing things without talking to me or my permission,” and “You’ve been warned I will be respected if nothing else!”

Blakemore rented at least five houses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including 12405 Yellow Wood Drive in Fort Worth — the house where he was arrested at in September 2018.

Dallas police began investigating Blakemore after a woman was shot in the buttock at a home in the 4500 block of Marcell Avenue in west Oak Cliff on April 4, 2018.


© 2019 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram