Documents detail Arkansas prostitution ring

 Local police and federal agents searched this duplex at 1128 B Connor St., in Springdale on May 26. Court documents say the two residents, Antwane Nash and Antonio Nash were part of a drug and prostitution ring in Northwest Arkansas.
Local police and federal agents searched this duplex at 1128 B Connor St., in Springdale on May 26. Court documents say the two residents, Antwane Nash and Antonio Nash were part of a drug and prostitution ring in Northwest Arkansas.

Prostitutes, some underage, operated in at least one local motel, and pounds of drugs arrived in the area, all orchestrated by a group of men who discussed their activities on social media, according to affidavits for search warrants served at nine Northwest Arkansas homes last month.


NWA Democrat-Gazette

The Hill Top Inn at 3601 S. Thompson St. in Springdale is shown June 19.

Charges will result from the investigation, conducted by local police and agents from the federal Department of Homeland Security, said Kevin Metcalf, Washington County deputy prosecuting attorney.

Contempt resolution

The U.S. Senate approved, 96-0, a contempt resolution against on March 17, declaring the company had failed to testify under subpoena in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee investigation of child trafficking in prostitution. It was the first such contempt resolution since 1995, according to news accounts.

Source: Staff report

"This investigation has a lot of moving parts to it. We're in the process of deciding which agency will prosecute what. We're cooperating with the U.S. attorney's office, and we have a lot of data to go through and a lot of people to talk to," Metcalf said.

The online social network Facebook and a teenager whose name remains a secret are key sources in the investigation, according to the affidavits.

Police executed at least nine search warrants May 26 at residences in Fayetteville and Springdale. Police from Rogers and Bentonville confirmed May 26 they also assisted in searches, but referred questions to Homeland Security.

Investigators submitted the affidavits to Washington County Circuit judges seeking approval for the search warrants. The affidavits and warrants became public when they were returned to the Washington County Circuit Clerk's Office. No warrants related to the case were found at the Benton County Circuit Clerk's Office earlier this week. Nathan Smith, prosecuting for Benton County, said the investigations were a federal matter, and he did not know what search warrants, if any, had been carried out in Benton County.

Police seized cellphones, personal computers, electronic tablets, flash drives and paper records in their searches, according to inventory lists accompanying the warrants.

Authorities are investigating allegations of a prostitution ring that used the Hill Top Inn at 3601 S. Thompson St. in Springdale and the suspected sale of illegal drugs, particularly marijuana, the affidavits say.

The hotel itself was not subject to a search and no employees have been questioned by police, Viral Narsinh, manager of the Hill Top Inn, said Tuesday. He also said management was unaware of the allegations.

Investigators followed up a report of prostitution earlier this year by checking Facebook pages and posts on the internet classified advertising service, records show. A subpoena followed that obtained conversations from Facebook that supported the allegations, investigators said in the affidavits.

Whether his office will file charges under state law or if any charges will come from federal jurisdiction has yet to be determined, said Washington County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Durrett. Metcalf worked with federal authorities in the investigation, Durrett said.

Federal agents declined this week to discuss possible charges. Calls to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas were not returned. Calls to Homeland Security were returned by Bryan Cox, Southern region communications director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Orleans. The agency is a division of Homeland Security.

Cox said he could not comment on an ongoing federal investigation -- or why his agency was responding to a request for comment. Immigration and Customs enforces federal border control, customs, trade and immigration law.

Jane Doe's tip

Investigators at the Fayetteville office of Homeland Security "received a lead from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in Washington that detailed the manner in which underage minor females were being sought out and exploited for sexual encounters with adult males in exchange for money in the Northwest Arkansas area," according to each of the affidavits. The documents do not say when the tip was reported.

A 17-year-old girl, identified in the documents only as Jane Doe, "had previously worked for two 'pimps' she identified as being 'T. Boi' and 'T. Nash' during the summer of 2015." The two men managed both underage girls and adult women as prostitutes, Jane Doe told investigators.

"T. Boi" was identified in the affidavits as Antonio Demetris Nash, 22, while "T. Nash" was listed as Antwane Nash, both of 1128 B Conner St. in Springdale. The affidavits didn't say if the two are related.

Antonio Nash had a telephone number listed in the affidavits. A call to that number Tuesday was answered by a recording that said the phone could not take messages.

Peter E. Giardino, an attorney in Springdale, said he represents Antonio Nash and Chauncy Demetrius Boles, another person listed in the affidavits as a suspect. Antonio Nash may comment, but not now, Giardino said Wednesday. Boles is in Forrest City and had not authorized any comment as of Wednesday, Giardino said.

Jane Doe told police the Nashes would post advertisements on

"Sometimes 'T. Boi' and 'T. Nash' would use fictitious pictures of unknown females for the website posting, and other times they would use a genuine picture of the female being advertised," according to the affidavits. Cellphone numbers belonging to the Nashes were listed in the advertisements, according to the affidavits.

Investigators compared photographs in advertisements of "escorts" in the Northwest Arkansas area on to photos of Facebook friends of the Nashes. They found 15 females on the advertisements who also were Facebook friends with Antonio Nash, according to the documents. One of the females in the ads was Jane Doe, the documents show.

Facebook connections

Federal search warrants of Antonio and Antwane Nash's Facebook accounts yielded more than 12,000 pages of records from May 1, 2015, to Feb. 19, 2016. Those records and transcripts of Facebook communications subpoenaed from other suspects describe the arrangement of prostitution liaisons at the Hill Top Inn and illegal drug transactions, according to the affidavits.

"When an inquirer to the (Backpage) posting would call to set up the sexual encounter, 'T. Boi' and 'T. Nash' would have the females answer the phone call and get the potential buyer to state that he was not law enforcement," according to what Jane Doe told investigators.

"A price was then set, and arrangements were made between the caller and the female for a time to meet at the Hill Top Inn in Springdale, Arkansas for the sexual encounter. Prior to the arrival of the interested caller, 'T. Boi' and 'T. Nash' would leave their hats and large necklaces in the motel rooms so that the interested caller knew that the females were being protected by a 'pimp.' After the encounter, the females were instructed by 'T. Boi' and 'T. Nash' to place the money paid for their services inside of the hats left at the motel since each girl had their own room," according to what Jane Doe told investigators.

The Nashes and other suspects would bring underage and adult females from the Springfield, Mo., area and move them between the Hilltop Inn and an unknown location in Little Rock to act as prostitutes, according to Jane Doe. The affidavits make no mention of where the prostitutes lived or how many there were.

Narsinh said he was not aware of the use of the motel for any illicit purpose. Investigators did not interview him or any employees, he said, nor had any of his employees reported anything suspicious. The motel is owned by a Springdale corporation called Tapi Ma Inc., which was formed in 2007, according to records at the Secretary of State Office.

Drugs from Colorado

Drugs were both a commodity sold by the suspects and were part of the pay for the prostitutes, according to the affidavits. Jane Doe told investigators the drugs were obtained from an unspecified source in Colorado.

Some of the Facebook documents included individual drug transactions, according to the affidavits, but investigators offered no overall estimate of the quantity or value of drugs they say were sold.

The affidavits provided a small glossary of "street slang" for drugs and prostitution and included summaries of Facebook messages that contained those terms.

"I need some bud" in one Facebook conversation between Antonio Nash and fellow suspect Dirrick Doolittle, was interpreted by investigators as a request for Cali Bud, a marijuana from California.

In the same conversation, the reply "How much g?" was interpreted as how many grams of the marijuana was wanted. The requested "8th" was street slang for 3.5 grams, the documents say.

Other terms found in the Facebook documents and defined in the affidavit included "blue dream" for a hybrid strain of marijuana, "kush" and "loud" for two different high grades of the drug, and "wax" for a highly concentrated form of the drug, according to the affidavits.

The Nashes have tangled with police before.

Springdale police stopped Antonio Nash on March 21 and arrested him on charges of possession of narcotics with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, fleeing and driving on a suspended or revoked license. He has a July 11 trial or court date pending in Washington County Circuit Court on the charges.

Antonio Nash's iPhone was searched March 22 without telling him while he was still in custody, court records related to the search show.

Antwane Nash, 24, was arrested by Fayetteville police May 18, 2014, on a charge of failure to appear, on Feb. 25, 2015, on a charge of obstructing governmental operations, again on Feb. 27, 2015, on a charge of obstructing governmental operations and on March 20, 2015, on a charge of possession of a controlled substance, according to the affidavits. Washington County Circuit Court records also show no disposition on the arrests.

He was arrested again on June 13 by Springdale police on a charge of third-degree domestic battery. He was in the Washington County Jail on Thursday on a $3,500 bond. He is set for arraignment July 13 on the third-degree domestic battery charge.

Nothing was found in the court database about the charges from 2014 and 2015.

NW News on 06/25/2016

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