A local man was sentenced in federal court Nov. 1, for his role in a sex trafficking conspiracy that involved four victims, including two teenagers following a Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), joint law enforcement partner investigation.
Cory Lavell Smith, also known as “Fatz,” 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Howard F. Sachs to 18 years in federal prison without parole. The court also sentenced Smith to 20 years of supervised release following his incarceration.
On Jan. 7, 2019, HSI agents in Kansas City, Mo., received a tip regarding a 14-year-old female (identified in court documents as V1) whose whereabouts were unknown. She had previously been apprehended in Blue Springs, Mo., after a traffic accident involving a stolen vehicle. She was taken to Children’s Mercy Hospital, where she reported that she had been forced to have sex for money. The hospital gave her personal belongings, including her cell phone, to federal agents. Agents used the phone to identify a residence in Jackson, Mississippi, where they encountered a second 16-year-old, victim (identified in court documents as V2). The second victim assisted agents in locating the first victim at a residence in Kansas City, Mo.
Agents set up surveillance at the Kansas City apartment building and soon saw V1 leave the residence and get into a vehicle with Smith, who was driving. When law enforcement officers identified themselves, Smith fled in the vehicle at a high rate of speed. Agents pursued the vehicle, which was ultimately brought to stop. Smith was arrested and V1 was taken into protective custody.
V1 identified Smith as her pimp. She told investigators that Smith groomed her into the commercial sex trade by befriending her, partying with her, buying her things, and educating her about the commercial sex trade. Smith provided her with drugs and deprived her of food to gain her compliance. V1 said she was paid $150 for a sex act, but Smith took all but $10 or $20 of that. Smith advertised V1 for commercial sex on various websites. She normally saw two or three men per day, and Smith drove her to local motels to conduct commercial sex acts. Smith kept V1 at the apartment in Kansas City and would lock the door to prevent her from leaving. She provided investigators with the names of two additional victims who had been trafficked by Smith.
V2 told investigators that Smith was nice at first but became more aggressive and threatening as time went on. V2 described an event where Smith almost “choked her out” over a $1,000 commercial sex fee. V2 said Smith continually threatened her, recounting specifically that he would try to whip them (V1 and V2) with extension cords or belts. V2 said she and V1 wanted to leave, but he threatened they could not get out of the business unless they died. V2 also told investigators that Smith would not provide food to the girls unless they completed commercial sex acts, and forced the girls to use drugs, which kept them compliant and awake all night.
On March 15, 2022, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking and one count of sex trafficking.
Smith admitted that he participated in a sex-trafficking conspiracy from Aug. 1, 2018, to Jan. 9, 2019, that caused four victims to engage in prostitution. One of the victims was 14 years old, and another victim was 16 years old.
Co-defendant Kenyashae Monae Roach, 29, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty on March 11, 2022, to transportation for illegal sexual activity and awaits sentencing.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine A. Connelly. It was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Lenexa, Kan., Police Department.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.
Learn more about HSI’s mission to combat child exploitation in your community, on Twitter @HSIKansasCity.