11th Circuit Upholds Vampire Pimp’s Sentence

     (CN) – A vampire-style sex trafficker was properly convicted and sentenced to 27 years in prison for pimping women around the world, the 11th Circuit ruled.
     Damian Baston called himself Drac, short for Dracula. He liked to dress up as a vampire, complete with gold-plated fangs and yellow contact lenses, according to court records.
     Baston beat and threatened women, forcing them into prostitution from Florida to the United Arab Emirates to Australia.
     Baston came to the United States in 1989 but was deported in 1998 after a felony conviction. However, he reentered the country after purchasing the identity of an American citizen.
     He then traveled the world, funding his extravagant lifestyle following the fifth law of “Pimpology,” a book written by “Pimpin’ Ken,” which says pimps should “prey on the weak” – in this case, women who were victims of sexual abuse as children.
     While Pimpin’ Ken did not advocate violence, Baston beat, choked and slapped his victims, forcing them to call him “Daddy,” court records show.
     Baston also allegedly maintained a muscular physique by forcing his victims to inject him with steroids.
     K.L., an Australian woman, testified that Baston offered to help her start her own restaurant before she discovered that his real intent was to pimp her around the globe.
     She said that one night, when Baston thought she was cheating on him, he woke her up and punched her in the pelvis. He strangled K.L. and threatened to slit her throat with a heated kitchen knife, K.L. stated.
     An American victim, T.M., testified that Baston wrapped a belt around her neck and made her crawl on her hands and knees like a dog.
     J.R., who was an aspiring model before falling in with Baston, testified that he threatened to chop her body up and “have (her) thrown in the Everglades.”
     She added that Baston forced her to have an abortion because he “didn’t want to have a baby by a punk bitch,” according to court records.
     Baston was arrested in 2013 at his mother’s house in New York. He was indicted on 21 federal charges for sex trafficking and money laundering.
     At trial, Baston testified that he did not coerce the women into prostitution, and that his transactions in Australia were legal because prostitution is legal there.
     The jury convicted Baston and sent him to prison for 27 years with a lifetime of supervised release. He was also ordered to repay the victims $99,270 in restitution.
     Baston appealed, arguing that he did not traffic J.R. across state lines. Judge William Pryor of the 11th Circuit disagreed in a ruling filed Thursday.
     “Baston also trafficked J.R. in Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee and New York,” Pryor wrote for a three-judge panel. “And even if we were to assume that Baston trafficked J.R. exclusively in Florida, we have held that a defendant whose ‘illegal acts ultimately occur intrastate’ still acts ‘in commerce’ if he ‘uses the channels or instrumentalities of interstate commerce to facilitate their commission.'”
     The judge said, “Baston’s use of phones, the Internet, hotels and buses facilitated his trafficking of J.R., so his conduct was in commerce.”
     Pryor also agreed with the government that Baston must pay an additional $400,000 to K.L. for sex trafficking that took place in Australia.
     Baston had argued that extraterritorial jurisdiction would be unfair to him under the due process clause, but the judge disagreed.
     “When he trafficked her in Australia, he wired the proceeds back to Miami,” Pryor noted. “In short, Baston used this country as a home base and took advantage of its laws; he cannot now complain about being subjected to those laws.”

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