Former National Football League player Eric Johnson is among 8 persons accused of trafficking 4 women and 1 girl. The 8 accused also face gang-related charges in Georgia.
Johnson, who scored a touchdown while returning a blocked punt for the Oakland Raiders in 2003’s Super Bowl XXXVII, was arrested along with 5 other men and 2 women. The arrests were part of an anti-human trafficking and anti-gang effort led by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.
Their fight against trafficking and gangs is designed to prevent gangs from recruiting and exploiting children. It also aims to rescue children who were kidnapped and forced into human trafficking, according to a report by Houston’s KHOU-TV.
So far, 50 other defendants across the state face related charges.
Sports Illustrated reports that Johnson, 46, is being charged with the following:
- Trafficking of persons for sexual servitude
- Aggravated assault
- Violations of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act
The racketeering charge involves conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act (RICO).
Former British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for her part in a sex trafficking scheme with her late boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell a month after being indicted on similar charges in 2019.
Investigation led to trafficking, racketeering charges
All 8 defendants were arrested by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office special investigations section after a month-long investigation. They were indicted by a grand jury on February 8.
According to the indictment, the 8 allegedly engaged in the trafficking of 5 females, including 1 minor.
The 8 defendants are believed to have been a part of the LOTTO (Last One To Take Over) gang, of which Johnson is said to have held a leadership role, authorities report.
Carr alleges that the gang engaged in human trafficking for funds to support its members and to buy weapons, among other things. The indictment claims that the gang kept women who were trafficked under its control by means of violence while holding them against their will.
As Houston police crack down on human trafficking, some innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire.
Johnson played in NFL for 6 seasons
As a special teams player and a defensive back, Johnson played in the NFL for 6 seasons, from 2000 to 2005. He also played college football as a defensive back for the University of Nebraska.
Johnson played for the Oakland Raiders from the 2000 season through the 2003 season, then played 1 season for the Atlanta Falcons and 1 for the Arizona Cardinals.
He should not be confused with another NFL player named Eric Maxwell Johnson, who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2001-2006 and the New Orleans Saints in 2007. The defendant also should not be confused with a player who just completed his rookie season for the Indianapolis Colts and has a similar name.
What is human trafficking?
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term and are asking: What is human trafficking?—the Neal Davis Law Firm has answers.
Basically, human trafficking is a modern form of slavery in which a person seizes and exercises control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.
Human trafficking violates federal and state laws prohibiting the recruiting or moving of persons, whether adults or children, by means of coercion, threats or fraud in order to exploit, enslave or abuse them.
The 2 basic forms of human trafficking are:
- Forced labor, such as domestic servitude and forced child labor, and
- Sex trafficking, such as forced prostitution.
Forced marriage and forced criminal activity also are forms of human trafficking.
Globally, there are an estimated 40 million victims of human trafficking, including over 15 million in forced marriages and nearly 25 million in forced labor, which includes forced sex. In fact, about 80 percent of all forced labor involves sexual exploitation.
An estimated one-fourth of all human trafficking victims are believed to be children under the age of 18. Female children and adults are estimated to be over 70 percent of all victims.
Did you know that in most states, child sex trafficking victims can be arrested for the prostitution-related offenses that they were coerced into performing?
Texas ranks 2nd in human trafficking
Our law firm conducted an extensive study of human trafficking statistics and found that, in one recent year, Texas ranked 2nd only to California in the number of human trafficking arrests, while Georgia ranked 6th overall. Houston is also a hub of human trafficking.
In addition, the Neal Davis Law Firm found that human trafficking crimes rose during the pandemic. Such crimes often involved forced labor as a means to earn income when much of society was shut down.
Human trafficking punishments are severe
Not everyone who is accused of human trafficking is guilty of the crime, but for anyone facing a charge, the punishments are severe. This makes it even more important for anyone who faces a claim, accusation or charge of human trafficking to engage an experienced criminal defense lawyer to handle their case.
The Neal Davis Law Firm fights to protect the legal rights of persons living in Houston, Conroe, The Woodlands, Katy, Sugar Land and elsewhere in Harris County, Montgomery County and Fort Bend County.
As for punishments, under federal law, holding a person in peonage, meaning debt slavery or servitude when employers make persons pay off debts by working, is a crime that can bring a fine of thousands of dollars and up to 20 years in federal prison.
Even worse punishments face those who are convicted of federal crimes involving human trafficking for sexual abuse—especially when such crimes involve children.
The minimum penalty for sex trafficking of children is 10 years in federal prison. The maximum penalty is life in prison.
Beyond fines and prison sentences, restitution—or paying victims—also can be among punishments.
Under Texas law, most human trafficking offenses are 1st-degree felonies. Such crimes can lead to punishments, including fines of up to $10,000 and prison sentences of 5 to 99 years.
Get a skilled human trafficking defense lawyer
If you or a family member faces a claim or charge of human trafficking, contact us at the Neal Davis Law Firm today to arrange a confidential review of your case by a knowledgeable defense attorney.
You may be among the many innocent persons who have been caught in widely flung nets of sting operations and then charged with a crime. You also may be a victim of overzealous prosecutors who make accusations without having sufficient evidence.