September 26, 2023
Annapolis, US 61 F

Anne Arundel County man sentenced for human trafficking

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh today announced the sentencing of Valdez Lawrence, 34, of Anne Arundel County, to 20 years incarceration for human trafficking and drug charges.  Lawrence pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in human trafficking, five counts of human trafficking, and one count of possession of a controlled dangerous substance (fentanyl).  Judge Laura S. Ripken of the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County sentenced Lawrence to 60 years incarceration, with all but 20 years suspended, followed by five years of supervised probation.  If Lawrence violates his probation, he would face an additional 40 years in jail.

In August of 2018, Anne Arundel County Police learned that Lawrence was forcing women to post advertisements online for sexual activity and to engage in prostitution.  The women were then forced to give Lawrence all of the proceeds from the resulting “dates.”  During the undercover investigation, police interviewed several female victims, discovered how Lawrence created the online ads and fee schedule, and determined which hotels he used as part of the trafficking operation.

Lawrence dictated when and where the women should eat and how often they should meet with men for sexual activities.  Lawrence forced some of the women to work seven days a week for months at a time and established a quota system to determine how many men the women should meet with every day.  In addition to forcing the women to engage in sexual activity for payment, Lawrence supplied the women with controlled dangerous substances.  The women often took these illegal drugs due to an existing drug addiction or as a coping mechanism.  When Lawrence was arrested, he was found in possession of the controlled dangerous substances fentanyl and cocaine.

“Lawrence preyed upon vulnerable women and engaged in human trafficking for profit,” said Attorney General Frosh.  “His victims suffered immeasurable harm due to his organized illegal operation.  As a result of our investigation and prosecution, Lawrence’s operation was shut down and he will spend many years behind bars.”

“There are certain crimes that make even the most veteran of officers sick, human trafficking is one of them,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy J. Altomare.  “We will always go after those criminals taking advantage of the vulnerable.  I would like to say I am proud of our police department and thankful for the Office of the Attorney General for their commitment to keeping our citizens safe and our streets clean.”

The investigation was a result of the Maryland Criminal Intelligence Initiative.  In making today’s announcement, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh thanked Organized Crime Unit Chief Katie Dorian, Assistant Attorney General Kelly A. Hooper, who prosecuted the case, and the Anne Arundel County Police Department for their hard work in this prosecution.  Attorney General Frosh also thanked State’s Attorney for Anne Arundel County Anne Colt Leitess.

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