David Wills, the 67-year-old founder and part-owner of Global Blue Technologies (GBT), a major Rockport, Texas-based supplier of shrimp larvae, has been convicted of sex trafficking and faces a potential life in prison sentence.
A federal jury in Corpus Christi deliberated for 10 hours following a 10-day trial before convicting Wills, now of San Antonio, on 17 different criminal counts, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
The jury heard how Wills and Maria Losoya, a 57-year-old Brownsville, Texas, woman were arrested in July 17 on charges that they started trafficking a young girl when she was only 10 years old, using their cellphones to arrange meetings where Wills could sexually assault the victim, according to the press release.
The arrangement went on from 2012 to 2015, when the victim reported the situation to the authorities.
Wills had promised to pay for the young girl’s college tuition in exchange for Losoya’s help, reimbursing her for gifts to the victim and expenditures she would otherwise not be able to afford, the federal prosecutors recounted. This included an iPad, Bose headphones, a flatscreen TV, Apple laptop, trampoline, swimming pool and a school trip to Washington, DC.
Losoya pleaded guilty in 2017 and testified at trial.
The jury heard from a forensic interviewer, a nurse who first examined the victim, law enforcement officers and an eyewitness who described seeing the victim at a hotel where Wills and Losoya met in March 2014. It also heard from Wills’ former personal assistant, who testified he asked her to hand over a personal computer on the day the victim contacted police. Wills later admitted it was destroyed to prevent law enforcement from seizing and reviewing it.
Wills, who had a total of 12 attorneys representing him at trial, attempted to convince the jury that Losoya only wanted more money. He took the stand and said he had an affair with Losoya but denied any sexual involvement with the victim.
The jury convicted Wills of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, seven counts each of sex trafficking and coercion/enticement, one count of attempted coercion/enticement and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to the DOJ.
Previously released on a $5 million bond, Wills was taken into custody following the verdict.
Company earlier hit by hurricane
In addition to being a large-scale supplier of shrimp larvae, GBT produced vannamei under the Copano Blues brand, using Sustainable Sea Products International as its Rockville, Maryland-based marketing arm.
The company has seen its share of bad news recently.
It was one of several seafood companies to suffer from Hurricane Harvey, a category 4 storm that plowed into the Texas and Louisiana Gulf of Mexico coasts in August 2017, taking a devastating direct hit to its operations.
More recently, in July 2019, GBT was awarded a “multi-million-dollar” contract to build a broodstock multiplication center shrimp hatchery and growout production facilities in Qatar, as reported by Undercurrent News. The grow-out modules, which will use recirculating aquaculture system technology, will include an initial capacity of 3,000 metric tons of farmed shrimp production output annually, rising to as much as 100,000t over four-to-five years, GBT said at the time.
Undercurrent has reached out to chief operating officer Lorenzo Juarez but he had not yet responded by press time.