Huntsville man sentenced 15 years for child sex-trafficking
From the Trussville Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a Huntsville man to 15 years in prison for paying the father of a 15-year-old so he could have sexual contact with the child, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and ICE Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Jere T. Miles.
U.S. District Judge R. David Proctor sentenced BILLY R. EDWARDS, 64, on charges of commercial sex trafficking, coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution, and being a convicted felon in possession of firearms. Edwards pleaded guilty to the charges in June.
The child’s father, Darwin Moises Amador-Zepeda, 38, a Honduran national, pleaded guilty today to coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in prostitution. His sentencing in that case has not been set. In 2017, Amador-Zepeda pleaded guilty to a separate charge of illegally re-entering the United States after previous deportation. He served about five months in prison in the illegal re-entry case.
“Billy Edwards and this child’s father entered an unholy alliance to take advantage of a vulnerable teenage boy,” Town said. “Edwards gave no sanctuary to this young victim and he will have the next 15 years in a federal prison without the sanctuary of parole. Our Human Trafficking Task Force continues its work to bring to justice to anyone who engages in these disgusting, unconscionable crimes.”
Edwards acknowledged in his guilty plea that he began paying Amador-Zepeda in 2014 so that he would persuade or coerce his 15-year-old son to have sexual encounters with Edwards.
During the ongoing sexual trafficking of the child, Edwards often paid Amador-Zepeda by check, and the two men used cell phones to induce or coerce the child to engage in sexually explicit conduct, according to court records.
The sexual encounters with the child continued for several months until Edwards stopped paying to have them. At that point, Amador-Zepeda began blackmailing Edwards, threatening to show law enforcement the cell phone communications between him and the child unless Edwards paid him. Amador-Zepeda told the child what to say in English to deliver the blackmail threat, according to court records. The two men later executed a contract for Edwards to make a series of payments totaling $20,000 to Amador-Zepeda in exchange for the cell phone containing the incriminating evidence.
In May 2017, the child told law enforcement about the sex trafficking. In September 2017, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant and searched Edwards’ residence, finding an Industrial National de Armes .38-caliber revolver, a Jimenez Arms .25-caliber pistol, a Bryco Jennings .380-caliber pistol and a Winchester model 1400 MKII shotgun. Edwards previously was convicted of a felony, conspiracy to commit fraud, in the Northern District of Alabama in 2005.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s HSI, in conjunction with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the Madison County District Attorney’s Office, investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorneys Xavier Carter and Carla Ward are prosecuting.