Trenton residents charged with human trafficking, promoting prostitution

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Darrell Smith

A Mercer County grand jury recently returned a 19-count indictment charging four individuals with human trafficking, sexual assault, promoting prostitution and other crimes, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

The indictment, returned on Jan. 11, charges Darrell Smith, 47, Gabriel Tabor, 28, Shannon Heisler, 37, and Jennifer Willis, 33, with the following:

  • conspiracy, first degree
  • four counts of human trafficking, first degree
  • two counts of facilitating human trafficking, second degree
  • three counts of promoting prostitution, third degree
  • promoting organized street crime, second degree, and
  • tampering with a witness, third degree.

Smith is additionally charged with third-degree aggravated assault, third-degree terroristic threats, third-degree criminal restraint and four counts of second-degree sexual assault. All four defendants are Trenton residents.

Smith was initially indicted in March 2018 on this case. The case was represented to a grand jury this month after further investigation uncovered an additional victim and evidence that other defendants were involved.

The indictment alleges that, between Dec. 16, 2017 and Dec. 23, 2017, Smith was allowing a young woman to stay at his residence, but he was forcing her to engage in prostitution against her will. Smith was also sexually assaulting the victim himself.

Smith was arrested in December 2017 and charged with these crimes. Further investigation revealed that Willis was living at the house during this time and was placing sexually suggestive ads of herself and the victim online.

Information was later developed that another victim was living in the house from October 2017 through February 2018, and being forced into prostitution in the same manner by Smith, Willis, Tabor and Heisler. Detectives also discovered that Tabor and Willis were posting this second victim online for Smith while he was in jail.

Onofri credited Det. Alicia Bergondo and his office’s Human Trafficking Unit with the investigation leading to the indictment. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Heather Hadley.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Bergondo at (609) 278-4859.