City Man Charged In Sex Trafficking Probe
A 30-year-old Jamestown man accused of sex trafficking was charged by criminal complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
Anthony Burris was arrested on charges of sex trafficking and enticing travel to engage in sexual activity.
“This defendant is a violent predator who preyed upon the vulnerabilities of these victims, leaving them powerless to fight back” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Our Office, together with our law enforcement partners at the federal, state, and local levels, will continue aggressively to pursue any individual who engages in sex trafficking, or any kind of human trafficking. Those who attempt to take away the freedom of victims through sex trafficking should expect that this Office will use every resource available in order to ensure that they, by way of criminal prosecution, will also lose their liberty.”
“The egregious acts identified as part of this joint investigation with Chautauqua County and the Amherst Police Department demonstrates our continued efforts to rid our communities of those who lack regard for human life,” said Kevin Kelly, HSI Special Agent-in-Charge. “Homeland Security Investigations will continue our commitment to investigating these abhorrent crimes and apprehending those who prey on the most vulnerable in our communities.”
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura A. Higgins, on Jan. 21, 2021, a mother contacted the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and reported the possible sex trafficking of her daughter.
The mother reported that her daughter was involved in drug use and prostitution and had to perform sexual acts with others in exchange for drugs and other items from Burris.
In addition, the mother stated the city man was physically abusing her daughter.
The mother provided the victim’s Facebook profile, which an investigator reviewed and recognized the victim from ads he previously saw on a website used to post advertisements for commercial sex acts or other illicit business like the sale of controlled substances.
On Feb. 28, 2021, the victim’s mother told investigators that she learned her daughter was assaulted by Burris and was at a medical clinic in Erie, Pa., seeking treatment for her injuries, which included significant bruising and swelling to her left eye and a laceration above her left eye.
The victim’s mother stated that her daughter was assaulted because she was going to try and leave Burris.
A law enforcement officer in Pennsylvania went to the medical clinic to speak with the victim, who was uncooperative, stating that she sustained her injuries from falling and refused any help. While in the parking lot of the medical clinic, the officer observed Burris in a vehicle.
On March 3, 2021, an undercover law enforcement officer contacted the victim and set up a “car date.” Investigators set up surveillance in the vicinity of the agreed upon meeting location and observed Burris driving a vehicle in the area. Investigators approached the vehicle and Burris was identified as the driver and the victim was identified as the front passenger.
During a search of the vehicle, a bag full of condoms and lubricants, suspected controlled substances including a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, and marijuana, three cellphones, and $2,216 in cash were seized. After the search was completed, Burris was released and given an appearance ticket for permitting prostitution.
An investigation also identified a second victim who also suffered from drug addiction.
On March 11, an undercover officer set up an appointment with the victim using a contact number from an online ad.
Once again, investigators set up surveillance in the vicinity of the agreed upon meeting location, and once again Burris was observed in a vehicle in the area with a female passenger.
Investigators approached the vehicle and arrested the city man. Observed in plain view on the floor near the driver’s seat was a clear plastic baggie containing a white powdery substance suspected to be heroin. Additionally, two cellular phones were seized from the vehicle.
According to the complaint, Burris rarely gave either victim any of the money obtained through sex trafficking activities. He reportedly would provide the victims with heroin. However, he would withhold drugs until they did what he wanted them to do, calling it “starving.”
A preliminary review of cellphones recovered from the second victim contained voluminous daily contact with sex buyers discussing details of sex acts, pricing, meeting locations and times. Both phones also contained photographs of both victims.
Burris made an initial appearance Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr. and was detained.
The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.