Crime

Documents reveal how a sex-trafficking ring operated in a rich Fort Worth neighborhood

A woman who told police she was traded to a pimp in Dallas from a man in Wyoming broke open a five-month investigation into a sex-trafficking ring that had its headquarters in an affluent neighborhood in far north Fort Worth.

At the head of the trafficking ring is a man who goes by the nickname “Macknificent” — 39-year-old Tremont Blakemore, police say.

Eighty-six pages worth of arrest affidavits obtained by the Star-Telegram, which include information from anonymous tips, text messages, social media accounts and bank records, provide details of what happened inside 12405 Yellow Wood Drive in Fort Worth and several other homes in North Texas.

The documents tell the story of a man who is a registered member of the Bloods gang and who bragged on Instagram about his wealth and women. They also tell the story of the women who had to make at least $1,000 a night having sex with clients found through advertisements posted online.

The documents don’t reveal the ages of the 15 women found in police raids last month. The language regarding the victims shifts between “girls” and “women,” so it’s unclear how old they are.

A shooting and the lie to get away

In Dallas, the six-bedroom house in the 4500 block of Marcell Avenue in west Oak Cliff is across from the Dallas National Golf Club. It’s touted as the “biggest house on the block,” according to multiple real estate websites.

On the morning of April 4, several Dallas police cars rushed to the house after a report of a home invasion shooting. A girl was shot in the buttock after a masked man got inside, police said. The girl was taken to the hospital.

Officers suspected prostitution was taking place at the house, but the women denied being trafficked. So the officers left.

The next day, a woman at the house lied to Blakemore about being sick and took an Uber to a Dallas hospital, according to the affidavits.

In the safety of the hospital, she told police that Blakemore beat and threatened to kill her and the other women he controlled. There were about 20 of them total. She said she became part of Blakemore’s circle after a pimp in Wyoming traded her.

She said the women lied to the officers the day before because, “Mack will kill them,” the documents say.

Five months later, on Sept. 11, a Dallas SWAT vehicle dug its tires into the front lawn of a house in Fort Worth and investigators broke in the glass front door.

Blakemore had moved his operation from Oak Cliff in Dallas to a house in the Villages of Woodland Springs in Fort Worth. The neighborhood calls itself a “luxurious community” with miles of “beautiful trails to dazzling pools and a community center,” according to its Homeowners’ Association. The neighborhood is filled with five-bedroom homes and manicured lawns. Neighbors of the Yellow Wood Drive house say it was the only rental on the street.

As he sat handcuffed on a curb outside the home that morning, neighbors took Blakemore’s picture and posted them on their private Facebook group page.

Rumors began to swirl around their community.

“We just thought there were roommates living there,” one neighbor told the Star-Telegram. “We didn’t think it was sex trafficking.”

Police say they believe Blakemore has controlled upward of 100 women in his trafficking ring. Blakemore’s two children, both toddlers, have since been placed in foster care.

Blakemore is now jailed on a $750,000 bail. His attorney’s effort to lower his original $500,000 bail was unsuccessful. In fact, prosecutors added another charge of compelling prostitution by force, threat or fraud for Blakemore on Oct. 7. He was initially charged with aggravated promotion of prostitution and engaging in organized criminal activity.

The ‘millionaire pimp’

On April 7, detectives got another tip about Blakemore. This time from an anonymous source. The tipster pointed them to Blakemore’s social media accounts where he bragged about pimping out women.

On Instagram, Blakemore posted photos of Bentleys, Rolls Royces, BMWs, diamond necklaces and rings and smiling women dressed in designer clothing. The women often used the hashtag #MacknificentsB**ch on their profiles. Some women have “Macknificent” tattoos. On the women’s birthdays, Blakemore would celebrate by showering them with gifts.

In other posts, he shared photos of various women and congratulated them on their Brazilian butt lifts and breast enhancement surgeries. In the photos, Blakemore tagged a man who says he’s a plastic surgeon in Miami.

Eventually, Blakemore created a separate Instagram page for the women. “Get a glimpse of the life of these Macknificent ladies!” he wrote. He also created a Facebook page for the women with a “book now” option.

The tipster called Blakemore the “millionaire pimp with 30 prostitutes.”

Blakemore’s social media seemed to be used as a networking tool, and a platform to show off his wealth.

“The opportunity to learn (would) be greatly appreciated,” one man commented on a photo that showed two women holding eight large stacks of bills.

“I like your style man being a white boy in this game i like to learn from the best at it keep up the positive posts maybe if you ever come to mia im here with mines,” another man wrote.

After his arrest, some people posted support for Blakemore on his Facebook and Instagram pages, saying he did not abuse any women.

Blakemore made his money through the 15 to 20 women he sold, police say.

Every night, he gave them a $1,000 quota before they were allowed to return home. They all got $10 a day for food, the woman who talked to police at the hospital said.

“Dates,” as the document calls them, with the women ranged from $100 for a half-hour to $250 for a full hour depending on whether the client traveled to the woman or the woman traveled to them — meaning a woman might have to have sex with 10 people in one night in order to make her quota.

If 20 women made $1,000 a night, as the documents say, Blakemore would bring in around $7.3 million a year, if the women had to work seven days a week. The woman who reported Blakemore to police said the women didn’t keep their nightly earnings.

Police found at least 1,789 online ads for sex related to Blakemore’s operation.

Bank accounts tied to one of the suspects, Peaches Hurtado, show cash deposits happening several times a day ranging between $150 and $2,100. Hurtado was charged with aggravated promotion of prostitution and engaging in organized criminal activity.

Dallas police tied Blakemore’s operation to four houses in North Texas:

2600 block of Timberline Drive in Flower Mound. Local police had investigated complaints of prostitution at the home last year.

4500 block of Marcell Avenue in Dallas. Blakemore had been robbed and beaten there by unknown suspects on July 31. In September, detectives saw several women moving items out of the house.

12405 Yellow Wood Drive in Fort Worth. Blakemore would move the headquarters of his operation to this address after the July 31 assault. He nicknamed the house the “Keller House” and was arrested there just after 7 a.m. on Sept. 11.

1700 block of Overlook Drivein Lancaster. When detectives saw women packing up the Marcell Avenue home in September, they followed the moving truck to this address. This house was also featured in an Instagram post.

Grooming women

In a news release about Blakemore, police referred to the women in his Instagram posts as being “controlled” by Blakemore.

After his arrest, the Star-Telegram asked the Fort Worth Police Department how many victims of trafficking have been identified in the city.

According to Felicia Grantham, human trafficking coordinator for the Fort Worth Police Department, there have been “53 at least semi-identified victims.”

“The media’s idea of ‘rescued victims’ is inaccurate,” Grantham said. “Most victims don’t even identify as such and because of this they rarely cooperate with our process.”

Advocates have said traffickers groom their victims over time, and usually shower them with gifts. Many don’t immediately see themselves as victims.

“Traffickers use threats and physical violence to control their victims, so the person being trafficked may stay in the situation out of fear of physical pain or a loved one being hurt by the trafficker,” Sandy Storm, a human trafficking survivor and author, told the Star-Telegram.

“Victims have often suffered sexual abuse as a child or teen, may be addicted to alcohol and/or drugs, have criminal records or other vulnerabilities the trafficker will use against them to keep them from leaving or asking for help,” Storm said. “Trauma bonds are often formed and the manipulation and mind-control tactics used by traffickers can cause their victims to believe the situation they are in is actually their own choice.”

The women who were found in the Fort Worth home were provided opportunities for counseling and other services targeted at helping victims of human trafficking, Dallas police said.

Nichole Manna: 817-390-7684, @NicholeManna
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