The panel deadlocked on seven other counts, and U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta declared a mistrial over charges of child sex trafficking, conspiracy and obstruction, including involving a second alleged victim, according to court records.
“The defendant exploited his young victims as if they were commodities to be controlled and sold,” Timothy Shea, U.S. attorney for the District, said in a statement. “The prosecution of human trafficking is a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. We will fight to protect these vulnerable victims.”
Armstead’s attorney, Jonathan Zucker, said the mistrial on seven counts spoke to the prosecution’s case.
“The fact that the jury did not convict on seven of the eight charges reflects that the prosecution did not have the evidence to prove the charges,” Zucker said. “Arguably the verdict indicates that the case may have been overcharged.”
Armstead was one of three men the FBI targeted last April in a fight against organized prostitution around the District’s Logan and Thomas circles.
According to charging documents, Armstead used an Instagram hashtag “#TeamSupreme” to advertise a commercial prostitution business. Prosecutors said he posted videos, images of cash and asked “Who wants to join TeamSupreme?”
Armstead advertised during what authorities called “the choosing season,” when pimps seek recruits or try to persuade women already working for other traffickers to change allegiances. His pitch was “choose up if you want to move up,” according to an arrest affidavit.
A police affidavit alleged Armstead’s team worked strip clubs in the District, Baltimore and New York to solicit men to meet a $1,000-a-day quota.
“The FBI has no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm and take traffickers off the streets in our community,” said Timothy M. Dunham, the special agent in charge of the criminal division at the FBI’s Washington Field Office.