Georgia woman who trafficked girls to Alabama for sex trafficking sentenced to 25 years in federal prison

A Georgia woman who sexually smuggled two underage girls into Alabama was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison earlier this week, prosecutors said on Friday.

Marlette Laishell Smith, also known as “Lala”, 29, of Rome, Georgia, pleaded guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of minors and two counts of transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity in late March , she said US Attorney Prim Escalona and responsible FBI Special Agent Carlton L. Peeples.

Smith recruited two girls, ages 15 and 16, into prostitution to make money for himself, prosecutors said, citing court documents.

The girls were stranded in Memphis and attempting to return to California.

Smith met the victims, who were hungry, destitute, without cellphones, and with no vehicles, shelter, or clothing other than the clothes they carried on their backs, on the stairwell of a Memphis motel.

She told them she would help them return home if they went to Alabama with her and made $200 each, prosecutors said.

Smith drove the girls to Georgia and then to Alabama, where she sex trafficked them, prosecutors said.

U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala sentenced Smith to 25 years in prison followed by a 25-year supervised release.

“Commercial sexual exploitation of children causes lasting harm to child victims and the wider community,” Escalona said. “The fight to prevent and combat exploitation would be impossible without the support of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners. We are particularly grateful for the work of the Birmingham FBI in apprehending the defendant in this case.”

Peeples said the phrase was “a powerful message to those who exploit minors and betray their trust.” The victims, who were in a vulnerable condition, trusted this person to help them return home. The FBI is committed to keeping victims safe and reuniting them with their families.”