A federal jury has convicted a 44-year-old Winooski man who prosecutors said got dozens of young woman addicted to heroin and forced them into prostitution, where the money they made was used to pay for more drugs.
The jury deliberated for six hours Thursday before finding Brian Folks guilty on 13 counts, including five counts of sex traffricking by force and a half-dozen counts related to possession and distribution of heroin and cocaine.
Christina E. Nolan, U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont, called Folks a “a merciless predator.”
“This conviction represents a total vindication for victims of human trafficking, who bravely told their stories of abuse and degradation at the hands of Folks,” she said.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Folks targeted young, vulnerable women in the Burlington
area, some of whom were homeless and addicted to drugs. Three of the women, prosecutors said, were 17 when they met Folks.
Witnesses, including eight women, testified that when a women went into withdrawal, Folks offered her heroin in exchange for sex, which he videotaped.
Others described how Folks enforced strict rules to keep his sex and drug operations going, subjected them to beatings, rape and other physical violence for violations.
Folks could be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for the convictions, as well as restitution to sex trafficking victims.