- Views & Opinions
Monta Groce, 30, of Sparta, Wisconsin, was sentenced this week to 25 years in prison for using violence, threats and coercion to compel three young women suffering from heroin addiction to prostitute for his profit in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
In July, a jury convicted Groce of three counts of sex trafficking by force, threats or coercion; one count of conspiracy to engage in interstate transportation for prostitution; one count of interstate transportation for prostitution; one count of maintaining a property for drug trafficking; one count of using a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking and one count of witness retaliation.
The sentence was announced by Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, along with U.S. Attorney John W. Vaudreuil of the Western District of Wisconsin and Special Agent in Charge R. Justin Tolomeo of the FBI’s Milwaukee Division.
“Groce beat, tormented and enslaved vulnerable young women struggling with heroin addiction,” said Gupta. “He treated them as sex slaves rather than human beings and his unconscionable actions offend the most basic standards of human decency. Nothing can undo the harm Groce inflicted or the pain he caused, but hopefully this sentence provides some measure of closure and relief for the victims.”
“Sex trafficking is modern slavery, and cannot be tolerated in any civilized nation,” said Vaudreuil. “These crimes, which took place in a small Wisconsin city, demonstrate that sex trafficking is not just a big city issue; it is a horrible problem in rural America too. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who violently exploit vulnerable victims in Wisconsin.”
“Sex trafficking has no boundaries and can occur anywhere,” said Tolomeo. “When combined with drug addiction, the results are devastating. Groce used heroin and violence to force victims into prostitution. The FBI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to target these predators.”
Evidence presented at trial included the testimony of the three victims identified in the indictment as Jane Does 1 through 3. They testified that Groce sold heroin in Sparta between December 2012 and April 2013. During that time, he enticed the victims to begin prostituting for his profit by providing them with heroin . As their dependency increased, he turned to violence and threatened to cut off their heroin supply if they disobeyed him, withheld money earned from prostitution or otherwise refused to prostitute.
Groce further kept some of the victims in perpetual debt by fronting them heroin and charging fines as punishment.
He advertised the victims on Backpage.com and paid other addicts to drive them from Wisconsin to Minnesota to prostitute.
The case was investigated by FBI’s Milwaukee Division with assistance from the Sparta Police Department and Monroe County, Wisconsin, Joint Investigative Task Force.