NORFOLK, Va. – A California man was sentenced today to 24 years in prison for organizing and running a methamphetamine trafficking conspiracy and commercial sex trafficking ring from his state prison cell.
“While already imprisoned for a sexual exploitation offense, the defendant organized and led a drug and sex trafficking conspiracy that placed profits over the lives and well-being of vulnerable victims,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This prosecution serves as a reminder that those who exploit and inflict harm on our community members, from behind bars or elsewhere, will be brought to justice.”
According to court documents, Foster Shane Gaines, 44, was serving an eight-year sentence in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for engaging in the prostitution of an adult woman. Beginning in approximately 2016, Gaines launched a drug trafficking organization that distributed methamphetamine from a source of supply in California to co-conspirators in the Tidewater region of Virginia. Using cellphones smuggled into prison, Gaines directed co-conspirators in California, Nevada, and elsewhere to mail parcels of methamphetamine to co-conspirators in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Petersburg, and elsewhere. Once the methamphetamine was distributed to customers during transactions that Gaines, at times, personally arranged using his contraband cellphones, the co-conspirators returned the proceeds from the sales to Gaines and his confederates by way of prepaid stored value cards or bulk cash sent through the mail.
“Gaines’s actions exemplify someone with a complete disregard for our laws and for the welfare of American citizens and deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent,” said Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. field office. “Sex and drug trafficking are both transnational issues and occur within nearly every region of the United States. HSI is proudly charged with preventing these types of crimes from happening and thwarting criminal networks that capitalize on them.”
In addition to his methamphetamine trafficking, Gaines also organized and led a commercial sex trafficking ring that at times involved approximately ten adult females and two juvenile girls. Again, using his smuggled cellphones, Gaines recruited women and girls to work as prostitutes by contacting them over various social media platforms. In exchange for 40 to 50 percent of their commercial sex proceeds, Gaines created online advertisements for commercial sex, rented hotel and motel rooms, communicated with customers, organized transportation, and otherwise managed their commercial sex activities. Gaines also arranged for a professional photographer to take sexually suggestive photographs of some women for use in the commercial sex advertisements he created for them, and he frequently directed his co-conspirators to provide cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other drugs to the women and girls. As with the proceeds from the methamphetamine sales, Gaines directed that the women and girls transmit their commercial sex proceeds to him through bulk cash mailings or prepaid stored value cards.
On October 11, 2019, Gaines pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, commonly known as “ice,” and 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a child.
Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C.; Peter R. Rendina, Inspector in Charge of the Washington Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Paul Neudigate, Chief of Virginia Beach Police; Col. K.L. Wright, Chief of Chesapeake Police; Larry D. Boone, Chief of Norfolk Police; and Colonel Gary T. Settle, Virginia State Police Superintendent, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Darryl J. Mitchell prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-143.