Anthony Wright Thomas Jr. found his victim on Instagram, bought her a train ticket to Stockton and then subjected her to nearly two years of sexual slavery, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. In October alone, he allegedly forced her into prostitution in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Boise, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Stockton, San Jose and some cities in Oregon and Washington.
Thomas kept the woman in captivity by beating her and threatening to harm her family, prosecutors say. After he allegedly choked and beat the victim in Las Vegas, authorities say she texted the National Human Trafficking Hotline—233733, “BeFree.” But police were unable to find her until she reached out to the hotline for a second time.
After her subsequent attempt, the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Task Force, the FBI and the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department converged at Motel 6 on North First Street in San Jose, where they found the woman. Police caught up with Thomas at a football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders.
Thomas faces three felony counts of sex trafficking and a slew of felony pimping and pandering charges. If found guilty of the crimes, he faces several years in prison.
“Human traffickers will have no haven in Santa Clara County,” Deputy DA Patrick Vanier said in a news release. “At the heart of this case is a terrified young woman, who was threatened, beaten and exploited for cash. Protecting her safety and her rights are why we on this task force do what we do.”
Thomas is being held at San Jose’s Main Jail without bail. He’s due in court on Nov. 26.