05.20.14 9:45 PM ET
The Sex-Trafficking Kings of Facebook
Tyrelle Lockett and his twin brother, Myrelle Lockett, were just 17 years old when they became the first individuals charged under a 2010 Illinois statute against human trafficking.
These Chicago-area twins were sentenced to four years, but after a “boot camp” program followed by a sentence reduction, they were soon paroled.
And now, at 21, both are back behind bars on sex-trafficking charges.
“You would think that people learn their lesson,” says Sgt. William Leen of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, who was involved in making the past and recent cases against the twins. “But obviously they didn’t.”
Myrelle is accused of attempting to force a woman he met on the Internet into prostitution. Tyrelle is being held on federal charges of trafficking in underage girls. Authorities say he took sex trafficking completely digital, one of a new generation of pimps who need only a smartphone to recruit girls, take pictures, post ads, and make appointments with johns.
“You can run the whole operation on your phone,” Leen says.
In the earlier case, the twins recruited at least one of the girls after meeting her at an alternative sentencing program where she landed after an unrelated arrest.
After their parole, Myrelle began exchanging messages online with an 18-year-old Minnesota woman. He and Tyrelle drove to meet the woman last June under what police describe as “false pretenses.”
The next thing the woman knew, she was being driven to the Chicago home of the twins’ father, Nathan Nicholson, who is under indictment for promotion prostitution in an unrelated case to which he has pleaded not guilty.
The woman says Myrelle informed her she was expected to engage in sex for money. She managed to escape by clambering over a fence.
“I just wanted to go home,” the woman told a reporter after Myrelle was arrested. “It wasn’t just me I was worried about; I’m pregnant.”
She added, “Don’t believe everything people say on social media.”
Tyrelle appears to have taken a more forthright approach. He allegedly targeted younger girls with a Facebook account he called Rico Finally Paid, describing his past employment as “pimpin.’” He posted photos of himself with large sums of cash as well as handguns.
“COME MAKE MONEY WITH ME,” one caption read.
An FBI criminal complaint unsealed last week recounts chats Tyrelle allegedly had with a number of underage girls, including one who is identified only as Individual I.
Rico Finally Paid: I want you to come get on this $$$ with me
Individual I: Mkay..how
Rico Finally Paid: Escorting boo.
Individual I: Wat wuld i have to do
Rico Finally Paid: Sex
Individual I: Naw I pass
Another girl was identified in the complaint as Individual J.
Rico Finally Paid: hey sexy how you doing im rico…i just wanna say you sexy and I will love for you to come get this money with me i see a lot of potential in you
Individual J: Haha that’s nice
Rico Finally Paid: im serious its all up to you
Individual J: How exactly do you get money lbvs! [laughing but very serious].
Rico Finally Paid: im a pimp boo
Individual J: Oh
Rico Finally Paid: fwm [believed to be an acronym for “fuck with me”] boo and get this money with me
And then there was a chart with Individual K.:
Rico Finally Paid: have you ever did escorting?
Individual K: Escorting what?
Rico Finally Paid: adult service were you have sex with older men but everything is safe and protected…im looking for a girl who down in ready to get this easy as money
Individual K: No I haven’t done escorting and I’m 16
Rico Finally Paid: its easy fast money money and im welling to spoil you to def . im just looking for my down as girl who ready to get rich like her nigga
Individual K: How old are you?
Rico Finally Paid: 21
Individual K: Honestly I don’t see myself doing that shit it’s not meh but I’ll, let you know if I change my mind…
Rico Finally Paid: well take time to think about ok boo. but i like your picturs
Tyrelle was allegedly able to snare a number of other girls. One, identified in the complaint as Minor C from Muncie, Indiana, was just 14.
“[Tyrelle] told Minor C that Minor C could call him, ‘Daddy,’” the complaint states.
As recounted in the complaint, Minor C and a girl identified as Minor B were lured by the promise of quick cash. Tyrelle allegedly picked them up at a mall in Muncie and drove them to a Chicago-area hotel. Sexually suggestive cellphone photos of them were posted as part of an ad on the website Backpage, which has origins in the Village Voice and is now considered by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office to be a major facilitator for prostitution.
“A short time after [Tyrelle] placed the ad on the website service, Minors B and C received a call for a service,” the complaint says. “Before the clients arrived, [Tyrelle] instructed Minors B and C that they should get the client’s money, count it and put it away.”
In a little over a week, Minor C collected some $3,000 from clients. Tyrelle is said to have pocketed every penny. But Minor C was far from home with no money of her own. She might have just kept on had an undercover cop with the Cook County’s Sheriff’s Office working with the FBI not arrested Tyrelle.
One of the girls, identified in the complaint as CW-1, agreed to become a witness against Tyrelle. The complaint says she reported Tyrelle had slapped and choked her, telling her, “You’re mine,” and “You’re not going anywhere.” She also recounted two other prostitutes telling her that Tyrelle “gave” them to his father.
Tyrelle went back to jail, where he remains pending a court appearance. He is expected to plead not guilty, as his twin has in the state case. The federal complaint against Tyrelle reports that in one Facebook status, he wrote of the joys of “trapping,” or running prostitutes.
“I LOVE trapping on the weekends. #$Money Making Mission.”
The complaint also describes a Facebook photo of Tyrelle handling what the FBI describes as a “pimp cane…used to control victims of sex trafficking through beatings and intimidation,” a suggestion the digital age has not changed the barbaric fundamentals what is most likely the one profession older than prostitution. The caption under the photo read:
“I see why yo bitch choose me #Chosen 1”
He seems to have seen no contradiction in changing his profile photo in April to one of him holding a newborn baby. A sonogram pic is in the same album as him brandishing a handgun.
Tyrelle is due in court on Friday, the smartphone not having made him even a mini bit smarter.