Crime & Courts

Charlotte sex trafficker sentenced to 15 years and six months prison

Tony Lee Drum
Tony Lee Drum Mecklenburg County jail

A sex trafficker who lured two girls to Charlotte by promising them food, shelter and security, and then turned them into prostitutes, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years and six months in prison, said Acting U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose.

Tony Lee Drum, 32, of Charlotte, was sentenced on two counts each of sex trafficking of minors and transporting minors across state lines for the purposes of prostitution.

Drum met one of the girls on a telephone chat service and the other girl on social media, according to court records.

He twice drove out of state to pick up the girls and take them to Charlotte to engage in prostitution, records show.

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer saw one of the girls walking alone on a city street in September 2013. The officer identified the 14-year-old South Carolina girl as missing.

A month later, officers found the other girl sleeping in Drum’s car while they were serving an arrest warrant on Drum for sex-trafficking the other teen, prosecutors said. The age and home state of the second girl weren’t available Tuesday.

“Drum preyed on young, vulnerable victims, and with the promise of food, shelter and security, he lured them to Charlotte with the intention of exploiting them for his financial benefit,” Rose said in a statement after Drum’s sentencing.

“Fortunately, a well-trained law enforcement officer observed one of the victims and the immediate circumstance and, as a result, two young women were rescued from a life on the streets.”

Drum will remain in custody until he is transferred to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr. also sentenced Drum on Tuesday to a lifetime of supervised release once he completes his sentence.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak