Crime & Courts

Charlotte man, wife and mother pimped underage girls to help him raise bail, feds say

Inside the Mecklenburg County Jail, Zerrell Fuentes came up with a plan to have his wife, mother and three underage girls help him make bail, prosecutors say.

Now all three members of the Charlotte family face an even longer stay behind bars.

An eight-count indictment issued Friday accuses Fuentes, 22, wife Brianna Wright Fuentes, 24, and his mother Tanya Fuentes, 53, with conspiring to traffic the girls for commercial sex acts in Myrtle Beach. All three face multiple sex-trafficking offenses.

The two-week operation involved three Charlotte girls, all under 18, whom Ferrell recruited while he was in jail, prosecutors say.

Zerrell Fuentes, along with his wife and mother, face federal sex-trafficking charges after being accused of pimping three underage Charlotte girls in Myrtle Beach to raise Fuentes’ bond money and free him from jail

Fuentes also used a jail telephone to arrange for his mother and wife to drive the girls to Myrtle Beach where they would earn money from sex – with the profits coming back to Charlotte to help Fuentes, who was being held on federal firearms charges, raise bail. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte says the criminal conspiracy took place a year ago.

Zerrell Fuentes
Prosecutors say Zerrell Fuentes was in the Mecklenburg jail when he recruited three underage Charlotte girls to perform sex for money and help him raise bail. Now Fuentes, his wife and his mother face sex-trafficking charges. Mecklenburg jail

Tanya Fuentes
Tanya Fuentes faces federal sex-trafficking charges after being accused of pimping three underage Charlotte girls in Myrtle Beach to help raise bail money for her jailed son, Zerrell. Both Zerrell Fuentes and his wife Brianna were indicted in connection with the scheme. Mecklenburg jail

Records indicate that Zerrell Fuentes has been arrested at least five times on repeated theft, robbery and firearms charges. Tanya Fuentes’ arrest record includes multiple driving under the influence charges and a hit and run, among other alleged crimes.

Under the latest indictment, the three face a minimum of 10 years in prison for each of the eight trafficking charges and up to a $250,000 fine. Zerrell Fuentes’ unrelated federal firearms charge carries up to 10 years and a $250,000 fine.

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS