A 28-year-old Tacoma man was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for running a prostitution operation that used the web site Backpage.com to advertise women and teenage girls for sex.
Marteze Clair previously pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree human trafficking and three counts of second-degree promoting prostitution.
Authorities began investigating Clair in May 2014 after a 15-year-old girl told them he’d recruited her to work as a prostitute, court records show, and that he’d advertised her services on Backpage.com.
Prosecutors later wrote in charging documents that Clair had posted more than 200 online ads offering girls and women for sex over a seven-month period beginning in November 2013.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He used drugs and threats of violence to keep them in line, prosecutors said.
Clair pocketed almost all the money brought in by the women and girls, court records show.
Law enforcement officers told prosecutors Clair is known to be the member of Tacoma street gang.
“Street gangs are moving into pimping to supplement their drug sales,” Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Friday in a news release.
Judge Katherine Stolz also ordered Clair to pay a $10,000 fine.
Clair declined to make a statement on his own behalf during Friday’s sentencing hearing.