Washington state man gets 30 years for human trafficking

June 16, 2020 GMT

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A member of a human trafficking ring was sentenced to 30 years in prison after prosecutors said he and fellow gang members paid for motel rooms, setup advertisements and collected money in northwestern Washington state, a judge said.

Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend sentenced Matthew Jeffrey Holt, 28, on Friday after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit human trafficking, human trafficking, and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, The Tacoma News Tribune reported. Holt is alleged to be the ring leader.

Holt was one of 11 charged in connection to the human trafficking ring in Pierce County, prosecutors said.

Several of the people charged received sentences ranging from about two years to 15 years in prison. Not all have been tried and sentenced.

Investigators learned about the operation from phone calls Holt made from jail, charging papers said, adding that the operation ran in 2016 and 2017 in Tacoma, Lakewood, Olympia, Lacey and Bellingham and included about 16 victims.

Holt assaulted and threatened the lives of multiple women, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Kent Underwood described Holt’s traumatic and violent childhood in a sentencing memorandum to the court, saying Holt fell into lifestyle he was born into and accustomed to.

“Add to the already immense hurdles that Mr. Holt would need to overcome in order to be a law-abiding citizen and contributing member of society, there is systemic implicit racism permeating our entire society, increasing the odds against Mr. Holt achieving lawful success,” the memorandum said.