A Virginia man who sex-trafficked a 14-year-old girl and 16-year-old girl for two years was ordered on Friday to serve 30 years in prison and pay the victims the $648,000 they generated.
Michael Edward Gunn, 41, ran a prostitution ring out of his home in Dumfries, Virginia, about 40 miles from Washington, D.C.. His wife, Angel Gunn, 35, and his live-in girlfriend, Vanessa Domingues, 31, assisted him.
According to federal court documents, Gunn posted ads for the teenagers on the online classifieds website Backpage, using fake photos. Then, he, his wife or his girlfriend drove the teens to meet customers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
Gunn gave the teens drugs and ordered that they meet quotas. One girl needed to make $400 a night. He set a higher quota for the other girl, $1,000 a night, "because of [her] skin color," court documents say.
From July 2013 to July 2015, the teens brought in about $648,000 -- the majority of which went to Gunn.
Neighbors said they had no idea Gunn was pimping girls from his large home in a cul-de-sac. They said they thought the living arrangement among the adults was strange but that they had not seen teens at the house.
"Obviously, you want to help. You want to help any young child that's gone through that, but there were no red flags. There were no signs over there," neighbor Tony Meyers said.
Prosecutors described Gunn as a sexual predator who refused to change his ways. When he met the teens, he already was a registered sex offender. He prostituted an underage girl in D.C., got out of jail and moved to the suburbs.
Court documents say he initially lured the girls with affection, telling them the crime ring was a family whose members took care of each other. He gave the teens a place to stay and had sexual relationships with them both.
At the same time, Gunn was physically violent. According to court documents, he once hit one of the teens so hard, her tooth pierced through her lip.
Anna Hansen, operations director of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Initiative, said pimps recruit underage girls because they're easy to manipulate.
"They don't have their own well-being or identity established, and they're looking for love, and they're looking for popularity and they're looking for money," she said.
Gunn's scheme began to crumble two years ago, when Prince William County police caught him in a hotel parking lot in Woodbridge, Virginia, with the 14-year-old victim. Police found they had three phones, $1,130 in cash, a hotel room key and 15 condoms.
Evidence showed Gunn knew both teens were underage, prosecutors say.
Angel Gunn and Vanessa Domingues also were convicted of sex-trafficking minors. The women testified at trial that Gunn led the crime ring. Angel Gunn was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison. Domingues got 10 years.
It's unclear whether the victims will ever get the $648,000 Gunn owes them; the sale of his house yielded only about $110,000.
Human Trafficking in DC
Prosecutors said they were unable to provide information on where the teens are now, citing confidentiality concerns.
Hansen, the advocate for victims, said she hoped the case would raise awareness of human trafficking.
"It's hiding in plain sight" she said.