SACRAMENTO — A Chico man was sentenced on Monday to 14 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced in a press release.
Court documents and evidence presented during the trial said Christopher Ramonaguilar Lawrence, 25, recruited a then 17-year-old girl in July and August 2017 to engage in prostitution for his financial benefit.
Lawrence communicated with the girl on social media, and on two occasions, lured her to motel rooms in Chico to explain how his prostitution business worked, inclduding how to detect and evade law enforcement. Lawrence also gave the girl methamphetamine, the release said.
A federal jury found Lawrence guilty on Aug. 29, 2019, of sex trafficking of a minor and distribution of methamphetamine to a person under 21, following a seven-day trial.
The case was brought forth after a joint investigation by the FBI, the Chico Police Department and the Butte County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian A. Fogerty and Quinn Hochhalter prosecuted the case.
“Sex trafficking can occur in any community, and it is an exploitive, abusive crime that treats human beings as mere commodities to be bought and sold,” stated Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office in a press release. “Our agents work closely with our local, state, and federal partners to identify individuals who are trafficking minors and adults for financial gain to disrupt this activity in the communities we serve. Today, as a result of our partnership with the Chico Police Department and Butte County Sheriff’s Office, an exploiter who entrapped his victim in a cycle of abuse and addiction will pay the penalty for his crimes, and those he exploited can take another step toward healing.”
The release also credited Project Safe Childhood, which the Department of Justice launched in 2006, for bringing forth the case. The initiative was created to combat child sex exploitation and abuse.