New York City man ran sex trafficking operation that targeted young women

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NEW YORK, NY – Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the indictment of AKIL MARTIN, a/k/a “Damion,” 28, for running a sex trafficking operation from at least 2019 to 2021, in which he forced young women in their late teens and early 20s from New York and other states to engage in prostitution. MARTIN is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Sex Trafficking and Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree.

“As alleged in the indictment, Mr. Martin has spent the last two years using social media, death threats, beatings, and guns, to recruit, transport, and coercively prostitute five young women who lived in constant and very real fear for their lives,” said District Attorney Vance. “The recruitment, coercion, and forced prostitution of survivors under threat of physical violence are hallmarks of the disturbing reality of sex trafficking in New York City. My Office’s Human Trafficking Response Unit will continue to work with communities, service providers and our partners in law enforcement to investigate and shut down these violent enterprises. I urge anyone who may be a victim of trafficking or who knows someone who may be a victim to call my Office’s human trafficking hotline at 212-335-3400.”

According to the indictment and statements made on the record in court, MARTIN used social media and other methods to communicate with and recruit more than five young women into a sex trafficking scheme from at least February 2019 to February 2021. As part of his alleged prostitution and sex trafficking operation, MARTIN transported the victims to hotels throughout New York City, where they would perform commercial sexual services for his profit under threat of physical violence and firearms.

MARTIN demanded that the victims follow a strict set of rules and maintained possession of their identifying documents in order to coerce them to engage in prostitution and prevent them from leaving. MARTIN required that the women hand over the money they made and collected more than $50,000 from the victims over the course of the operation, utilizing web-based banking services to receive payments. If the victims refused to work, the defendant would coerce, intimidate, and physically abuse the women, including subjecting them to repeated beatings and other acts of violence.


In multiple instances, MARTIN brandished firearms at the women and threatened to kill them if they spoke to law enforcement. In January 2021, a young woman from the Bronx reported threatening text messages to the NYPD, in which the defendant said he would shoot her and kill her.

Earlier this week, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office announced the start of services at the Phoenix Project, a new child and youth sex trafficking intervention program created with the New York Foundling for young survivors across New York City. The Phoenix Project is funded by a $2 million grant from the D.A.’s Office’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative, which D.A. Vance created using millions seized in investigations against major banks.

Assistant D.A. Meghan McNulty is handling the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Justin McNabney and Pierre Griffith, Deputy Chiefs of the Human Trafficking Response Unit, and Carolina Holderness, Chief of the Human Trafficking Response Unit and Deputy Chief of the Special Victims Bureau, Tanya Apparicio, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau, and Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, Chief of the Trial Division. Investigators Sean Ryan and Ariela DaSilva and Supervising Investigator Elena Lui, and Investigative Analysts Jacqueline Karp and Padraig Friel assisted in the investigation.

D.A. Vance thanked the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, and other authorities who provided substantial assistance with the investigation.

Defendant Information

AKIL MARTIN, a/k/a “Damion,”
Elizabeth, New Jersey

Charges:
Sex Trafficking, a class B felony, 3 counts
Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 1 count

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

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