Defendants Threatened to Harm
Witnesses and Their Family Members
FORT WORTH, Texas — Bruce Trenshel Davis, aka
“Wheatie,” 25, of Shreveport, Louisiana and Brandon Ray Austin, aka “Pep,” 31, of Fort Worth, Texas, appeared
yesterday in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton, on
a federal criminal complaint stemming from their attempt to threaten witnesses
who were cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of a child sex
trafficking organization, announced U.S. Attorney John Parker of the Northern
District of Texas.
The complaint charges both Davis and Austin with one count of attempting to
obstruct or interfere with enforcement and one count of tampering with a
witness, victim, or informant. Magistrate Judge Cureton ordered both
defendants to remain in custody pending further court hearings.
“Protecting victims and witnesses is one of the most important jobs of law
enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “We will aggressively prosecute
those who attempt to threaten, intimidate, or do physical harm against those
who cooperate and work with law enforcement. That commitment is never
more steadfast than in cases such as this, involving violent threats against
minor female victims who have been sexually exploited.”
In March of 2017, the Fort Worth Police Department’s VICE Unit conducted a
recovery operation in response to a lead sent from the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in reference to a suspected victim of
Child Sex Trafficking. Fort Worth VICE Unit located and utilized a Backpage.com
ad containing photographs of a minor female that advertised commercial sex
acts. As a result of the operation, the minor female was recovered.
Additionally, two other minor females, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, were also
located. The operation resulted in eight men being arrested on sex trafficking
of children charges.
Demarcus Davis, Kentrell Davis, Pierre Lagrone, Herman Sanders and Reginald
Smith were among the eight charged.
According to the affidavit filed with the complaint, on July 25, 2017, Bruce
Davis, a relative of Demarcus Davis and Kentrell Davis, sent threatening text
messages to Jane Doe 2, the 17-year-old female victim in the case mentioned
above. Bruce Davis threatened physical harm to Jane Doe 2 and her family
because he believed she was cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution
of Kentrell Davis and Demarcus Davis.
Another witness who cooperated with law enforcement and provided valuable
evidence that detailed the size and scope of the same child sex trafficking
organization received threats from Austin, according to the affidavit. Austin
was friends with Lagrone, Sanders and Smith. On October 18 and 19, 2017 Austin
sent text messages to the witness threatening her in relation to her
cooperation in the prosecution of Lagrone, Sanders and Smith.
A complaint is a written statement of
the essential facts of the offense charged and must be made under oath before a
magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence
until proven guilty. The government has 30 days to present the matter to
a grand jury for indictment. The maximum penalty for the offense is not
more than 20 years in federal prison.
The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security
Investigations (HSI), Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Fort Worth, Tyler
and Arlington Police Departments are investigating. Assistant U.S.
Attorney P.J. Meitl is in charge of the prosecution.