A Belton couple is facing dozens of charges related to sex trafficking and sexual exploitation of at least two children, according to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and arrest warrants obtained by the Independent Mail.
Gary Garland, 49, and his wife, 48-year-old Shannon Garland, were initially charged with criminal sexual conduct with a child but further investigation led to additional charges, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Gary Garland is facing 27 charges, including one of trafficking a child. Garland transported a 14-year-old knowing that the teen would be used for sex trafficking, according to an arrest warrant. Garland participated in the trafficking and financially benefited from it, according to the warrant.
A second warrant says he induced the teen into a a sexual performance and that it is supported by video evidence. Those offenses occurred in November, according to warrants made public Tuesday.
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride said investigators think Gary Garland was giving the children drugs so they would commit sex acts.
“We believe he was keeping them doped up,” McBride said in an interview with the Independent Mail. “We think that’s a mark of sex trafficking, especially the trafficking of young people.”
He is charged with four counts of distributing narcotics to minors.
Most of the other charges he faces are related to sexual exploitation of children.
Gary Garland is already a registered sex offender. According to electronic records from the State Law Enforcement Division, he was convicted of committing or attempting a lewd act on a child in 1989.
Shannon Garland faces at least 10 charges, most of them related to sexually exploiting children, according to warrants.
In once instance, Shannon Garland was present and participating when a teenager performed a sex act on an adult, and the act was videotaped on March 29, according to a warrant.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security assisted in the case.
The Garlands are at the Anderson County Detention Center without bail.
Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride said the investigation of the couple is ongoing. He said an investigation began several weeks ago when one of the victimized children told someone they trusted about what was happening.
“What happened to these children … I don’t know if I have the words for it,” McBride said. “It’s shameful and disgusting.”
Check back for more information as it becomes available.