Brothers, uncles, female accomplice charged in sex trafficking ring


Clockwise from top: Antonio Dion Washington-Davis, Otis Deno Washington, Calvin Roy Washington, Robert James Washington and Elizabeth Ann Alexander

Police say young victims used as prostitutes throughout metro area

She came to police for help. She told them a man, who was pimping her out, had tried to strangle her.

The young woman told St. Paul officers that the man had driven her to University Avenue and forced her to work the streets. He allegedly said, "You gonna get out there and make me some money bitch."

When she resisted, saying she wasn't feeling well, the man grabbed her by the throat, she reported to police on Oct. 22, 2010.

According to the criminal complaint filed Monday, April 8, he continued to force her to work as a prostitute, collaborating with his uncle, known as "Ice Mike." He would tell the then 21-year-old that he owned her, and that she'd "better do as I say," the complaint reads.

The man allegedly had another uncle and a brother, sometimes called "Dino," involved in the prostitution ring as well.

The woman went missing. The same man had taken her to a hotel in Ely, she later told police. She said he took her to the small town in northern Minnesota because it was "somewhere where you can't talk to any of your family and won't know where you are."

He then held her in the hotel room to be prostituted out, the complaint reads. He posted pictures of her online in a sex ad and waited for customers to respond, it states.

The woman's family reported her disappearance to police, the complaint says. They had received messages from her cell phone asking for help. When they called back, a young man, whom the family later recognized as Antonio Dion Washington-Davis, 27, answered. He said she was "busy taking care of business," the Ramsey County criminal complaint states.

A day later, police found the woman crying as she stood by the side of the road in her hometown of Brooklyn Park.

East Side connections

Authorities allege Antonio Dion Washington-Davis is part of a group of two brothers, two uncles and a young woman who have been charged in connection with a human sex trafficking operation.

The complaint pegs some of the group's operations to the Motel 6 at 2300 Cleveland Ave. in Roseville. There on June 7, 2012, police were conducting an undercover prostitution sting, the complaint states.

Police arrested two young women who were allegedly pimped out by the group. 

The group also allegedly conducted some of its operations out of an East Side house on the 600 block of East Hawthorne Avenue, where one of the uncles, Robert James Washington, resided.

Police said they found photographs of barely clothed women on a "green-and-white tile floor" that matched the flooring in the Hawthorne Avenue home.

The complaint indicates that at one time the men were keeping some of the young female victims in the basement, while others were kept elsewhere in the house.

St Paul police arrested the group the morning of Monday, April 8, charging them with various sex trafficking offenses, a release from the Ramsey County attorney's office states. As of press time, the group was being held at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center.

"All of the defendants are a part of an evil conspiracy to enslave women and girls for their own financial gain," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in a press release. "Women and girls are not for sale in Ramsey County."

Otis Deno Washington, 29, of St. Paul is charged with one count of first-degree sex trafficking, two counts of second-degree sex trafficking, and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. He is held with a $200,000 bail.

His brother, Antonio Dion Washington-Davis, 27, of Brooklyn Park is charged with first-degree sex trafficking, second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. He is held on two separate sets of charges, including $250,000 for the prostitution ring and $80,000 for an assault case, when he allegedly attacked his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Ann Alexander, also charged in the sex ring case.

One of the uncles, Calvin Roy Washington, 49, of St. Paul is charged with one count of second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. He is held with a $150,000 bail.

The other uncle, Robert James Washington, 56, of St. Paul is charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. He is held with a $60,000 bail.

The woman, Elizabeth Ann Alexander, 25, of St. Paul is charged with conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking. She is being held with a $20,000 bail.

The complaint indicates that Alexander assisted the men with the technology aspects of the prostitution ring, helping them post ads and pictures to the web.

According to an earlier criminal complaint against Antonio Washington-Davis, Alexander dated him for six years, and he is the father of her two young children. The couple split at the beginning of the year, the complaint states.

The suspects first appeared in court on Wednesday, April 10, at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. Their next appearance, an omnibus hearing, is scheduled for April 26 at 1:15 p.m.

Preying on "mentally slow" young women

The operation involved numerous victims and multiple communities throughout Minnesota, including the East Side and Roseville, according to a criminal complaint.

There were at least 10 female victims of sex trafficking, Choi said, who were "very young." One victim was 15 years old.

Police tracked the predatory group's practices spanning nearly two years, from September 2010 to July 2012.

In one victim's statement recorded Nov. 16, 2012, she said that the brothers "prey on young women who are mentally slow and/or vulnerable and recruit them into prostitution."

Two of the victims are reported to have been living in a homeless shelter in downtown St. Paul when the men first trafficked them.

Another victim has a cognitive disorder, and one has bipolar disorder.

The Washington brothers are said to have coerced petite, vulnerable women who couldn't physically defend themselves. The men often tried to convince the women that they loved them, the complaint states.

One victim recalled that Otis Washington would say "If you really love me" you will prostitute for me, the criminal complaint states.

The complaint also indicates that Antonio Dion Washington-Davis used death threats to control victims.  "If anything leaks out about anything about me then I will kill you fat bitches," he said, according to the complaint. He told one victim that if he couldn't hurt her, he would hurt someone she loved, the complaint states.

Finding clients online

Using adult websites such as Backpage.com, the defendants listed ads to prostitute the victims, according to the county attorney's office.

The ads said things like "$70 Late Night $pecial" and "sober up with our 2 sluts." The suspects paid for the listings using gift card credit cards, the kind that can be bought at convenience stores, the report reads.

Posting photos of the victims to the web via cell phones, the defendants allegedly then used a slew of e-mail addresses to arrange for clients to have sex with the victims.

Police were able to track their criminal actions through the ads. They reportedly followed phone numbers and e-mail addresses associated with the ads, and through a complicated string of documents, they said they were able to compile evidence and charge the group.

The participation of the victims was "very critical" for the police investigation, Choi said during an interview last week. This participation "was made possible by the police department's victim-centered approach," he added.

The formal investigation opened in October 2012 when a larger picture of the case began to emerge. It was at that point that the department devoted significant resources to compiling evidence.

It took six months to get to the point of being able to arrest the defendants, Choi said.

"We all wish that we were able to do this a lot sooner. It took us a long time to get to this point.

"We're doing everything we can to help (the victims)," Choi said.

Contact Patrick Larkin at eastside@lillienews.com or 651-748-7816.


The charges

The suspects and the charges against them are:

• Otis Deno Washington, 29, St. Paul, one count of first-degree sex trafficking, two counts of second-degree sex trafficking, and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking; held on $200,000 bail

• His brother, Antonio Dion Washington-Davis, 27,  Brooklyn Park, first-degree sex trafficking, second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking; held on two separate sets of charges, including $250,000 for the prostitution ring and $80,000 for an assault case involving his ex-girlfriend

• Elizabeth Ann Alexander, also charged in the sex ring case.

• One of the uncles, Calvin Roy Washington, 49, St. Paul, one count of second-degree sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking; held on $150,000 bail

• The other uncle, Robert James Washington, 56, St. Paul, conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking; held on $60,000 bail

• The woman, Elizabeth Ann Alexander, 25, St. Paul, conspiracy to commit second-degree sex trafficking; held with a $20,000 bail

The complaint indicates Alexander assisted the men with the technology aspects of the prostitution ring, helping them post ads and pictures to the web.

According to an earlier criminal complaint against Antonio Washington-Davis, Alexander dated him for six years, and he is the father of her two young children.

The suspects first appeared in court on Wednesday, April 10, at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center. Their next appearance, an omnibus hearing, is scheduled for April 26 at 1:15 p.m.

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