Trafficking of 12-year-old child results in multiple indictments

Published 2:29 pm Thursday, April 25, 2019

PRESS RELEASE — Criminal District Attorney Bob Wortham and Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary announced Thursday that a Jefferson County Grand Jury returned indictments on three individuals involved in the trafficking of a 12-year-old female. The indictments are the result of a joint investigation involving the Beaumont Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.

On January 30, 2019, officers with the Beaumont Police Department responded to a call for service at the intersection of Walden Road and Fannett Road in Beaumont, Texas, in reference to a local 12-year-old runaway. Officers received credible information from several witnesses at this location that led them to believe the child was currently being trafficked. Detectives from BPD’s Narcotics Unit, Special Crimes Division, and the Special Assignment Unit, as well as agents from Homeland Security Investigations responded to the scene. Detectives located an online ad that offered sex with the child in exchange for money. Detectives made contact with an unknown individual to set up a “date” for the child at a local motel. Detectives conducted a sting operation in which they safely recovered the child. She was immediately taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital for medical treatment and a forensic medical exam.

Toni Davis, 25, of Beaumont, Texas, and Arthur Gilder, 23, of Beaumont, Texas, transported the child to the motel for the “date” and were arrested at the scene for the first-degree felony of Trafficking of Persons. The investigation later revealed dozens of ads had been posted online of the child. The phone numbers and email addresses associated with these ads belonged to Toni Davis and Arthur Gilder.

The investigation also revealed that Andre Tucker, 24, of Beaumont, Texas, had engaged in sexual acts with the child in exchange for money after seeing an ad of her online. Detectives executed a search warrant at Tucker’s residence on January 31, 2019, where he was arrested for the first-degree felony of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. Tucker confessed to detectives that he had engaged in sexual acts with the 12-year-old. In addition to Tucker, numerous other unknown “johns” also purchased the child for sex.

Toni Davis was indicted on two cases of Trafficking of Persons and one case of Attempted Trafficking of Persons. She is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison for the Trafficking of Persons cases and 2 to 20 years in prison for the Attempted Trafficking of Persons case. Arthur Gilder was indicted for two cases of Trafficking of Persons. He is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison. Andre Tucker was indicted for two cases of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. He is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison.

A person commits the offense of Trafficking of Persons if they knowingly traffic a child and cause the child to engage in, or become the victim of, Prostitution, Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, or other sexual offenses, regardless of whether the person knows the age of the child. Traffic means to transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain a person by any means. (See Texas Penal Code § 20A.02).

The investigation is still ongoing at this time, and detectives believe there is a possibility that additional suspects and/or victims may be identified.