Correction: Due to incorrect information provided by the U.S. Attorney’s office, an earlier version of this story stated that Jeremy Naughton was convicted of kidnapping in addition to other charges. He was not convicted of kidnapping.
In 2011, Jeremy Naughton, or “Jerms Black,” was an aspiring rapper, posting photos of himself partying in clubs with scantily clad women. He had recently released a single, “Da Paper.”
On Thursday, a jury in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt found Naughton guilty of sex trafficking, transporting individuals to engage in prostitution and using a gun during a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
Naughton was running a ring of prostitutes between New York, Maryland and Virginia with Charles Anderson, a close friend with whom he shared a Brooklyn apartment, according to prosecutors.
Anderson pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges in March.
“Jeremy Naughton kidnapped young women, held them against their will and used violence, sexual abuse and threats to compel them to work for him as prostitutes,” United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein said.
Naughton, 32, and Anderson, 26, targeted eight women ages 19 to 28, according to Anderson’s plea agreement.
The men targeted prostitutes on Web sites like backpage.com and craigslist.com. Anderson arranged hotel “dates” for Naughton via text message, and then Naughton kidnapped the women and forced them to work for him, according to the agreement.
Naughton drove from New York to Silver Spring to kidnap a woman and take her back to Brooklyn, according to his indictment. He and Anderson took away the women’s identifications and phones, controlling them “through physical assault, humiliation, confinement, theft of personal property, and threats.”
Naughton shuttled women to and from Maryland. He tried to hit an Oxon Hill woman with his car in 2009, according to his indictment, which also described an incident that same year in which he allegedly choked a woman and forced her to perform oral sex. On another occasion, he barged into a hotel room in Rockville, beating a woman and demanded she work for him.
In one case, Naughton snapped the neck of a dog owned by one of the prostitutes.
Naughton will be sentenced in August. He could spend the rest of his life in prison: each of the four counts of sex trafficking carry a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of life in prison, and each of the six counts of transporting an individual to engage in prostitution carry up to 10 years in prison. He faces an additional seven years for possession of a firearm in the furtherance of a crime of violence.